Tuesday, 30 September 2008

What is a blog and blogging and posting and...?

A collection of tweets on a topic started by Paul Bradshaw from the Online Journalism Blog.

It's not exactly a new set of issues but definitely worth revisiting every now and then.

It's all too easy to think you know what something is and then realise that in reality it's far more complicated than that and changing all the time.

(I'm not sure Twitter really works too well for these debates. But anyway. The italics are comments I've added later and really just me throwing some stuff out there.)

Taken from Twitter 30/9/08

1000 Things #111: Most 'blogging' is not done on blogs, but on forums, Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, etc.

ourman @paulbradshaw - Surely you can only blog on a blog. That's like saying most walking is done on a bicycle.

But then most writing is not done on a 'write'.

@paulbradshaw Interesting. I'm not tackling forums as 'blogging' to limit the size of my project. I think there are some key differences.

paulbradshaw @ourman et al well Twitter and Facebook is microblogging; MySpace is just an in-profile blog

@Dan_10v11 I'm saying that some people - my mother, for instance - use forums as a place to blog.

I'd be interested to hear how she uses it 'as a blog', rather than as a forum.

The point - isn't there a difference between a 'blog', 'blogging' and 'blogger'?

@paulbradshaw - surely she uses forums as a place to write. You can't blog on a forum any more than you can blog in a text book.

Obviously you can't blog away from the World Wide Web - the interactive nature of blogging doesn't work on paper. I think there is still validity in Paul Bradshaw questioning where else on the World Wide Web you can blog and if this does make sense.

Dan_10v11 @paulbradshaw E.g. A blog is not a forum, you can blog on a forum, a blogger can post on a forum. But r u a blogger if you post on a forum?

'you can blog on a forum' - my instinct actually is that you 'post' on a forum. This comes in later.

@ourman surely you can blog anywhere that allows people to respond? And is it platform or genre?

I suppose the first part of this represents a more cultural definition of blogging. I think it's a difficult route to go down.

@paulbradshaw @Dan_10v11 And there are even at least 3 different meanings for "blog" - technology, website, mindset

Mindset?! I wonder if I have a blog mindset...

Dan_10v11 @ourman @paulbradshaw But can you blog on a website? Or do you have to have a 'blog' bit of the website?

ourman @paulbradshaw - surely you can only blog on a blog. You twitter on Twitter. You SMS with SMS. @tomVS web2.0 is the genre

A more functional definition of blogging?

@paulbradshaw - you can't be a blogger unless you have a blog you contribute to. And blogging is the act of contributing (to a blog)

@Dan_10v11 I think what people are doing is "posting". You can "post" to any number of online sites but you can only blog on a blog.

Dan_10v11 @paulbradshaw @ourman I think you can make a case for either of your ways of looking at 'blogging'.

Dan_10v11 @ourman I think @paulbradshaw would argue that by posting on a forum his mum has effectively established a blog. But he can defend himself!

Dan_10v11 @ourman I agree - the addition of 'posting' to the debate helps. At base I think we're trying to work out what a blog is.

@ourman Agreed. The confusion between "post/blog" and "posting/blogging" is an endless source of miscommunication here.

ourman @adders blogging is too important to be lumped in with facebook and the like. It devalues it - weakens it.

I can see what ourman is getting at and generally agree. But I import my blog posts into Facebook. Does this mean I blog there too? Or not? Maybe that doesn't count. I just import the posts. But if people read it from there, are they not reading my blog on Facebook.

ourman @adders - I'd argue that just regurgitating links (without comment) isn't blogging either. But I'm guessing that's my own personal bugbear.

adders @ourman That's a tricky one, because that's how weblogging started. But I'd agree that blogging has moved beyond that.

paulbradshaw @ourman agreed you can't be blogger without a blog, but i think the act of blogging is broader

paulbradshaw What is 'blogging'?

adders @paulbradshaw The process of participating in the upkeep of a weblog.

paulbradshaw Or, what are the generic qualities of blogging? Personal? Open? Would love your thoughts

I still think there's value in going with the 'blog as a publishing tool' approach, advocated by Kevin Anderson and Chris Vallance.

Ends. For the moment, at least.

Here are a few blogs that challenge some of the definitional boundaries:

1. The Ministry of Defence call this a blog, but there's no space to respond. Is it still a blog?

2. Rachel North 'blogging' on the BBC after 7/7? She also posted the same content on her own blog.

3. Post Secret is an award winning blog. But feels more like community art to me.

4. World War One blog. Publishing historical documents or blogging? Or both?
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Wednesday, 24 September 2008

Links for today: New media - challenges, changes, clashes and toilet doors

  • More pessimism at the Telegraph and other newsrooms about the new media world. Several emailers to Roy Greenslade argue that fewer jobs mean fewer facts.
  • A blogger at The Scotsman is fired for letting slip that (shock, horror) advertising is moving online.
"I was taken by an expression used in an editorial in The Australian a month or so ago that observed that blogging had all the intellectual value of graffiti on a toilet door.....I accept that some blogs have value and potency -- remember the Baghdad blogger Salam Pax during the early days of the Iraq war? -- but I cannot see how blogging does much other than add a forum for discussion to newspaper sites."

(Feel very slightly offended by my blog being compared to graffiti on a toilet door. But comforting myself with the knowledge that it does depend on the toilet door and who's writing on it. I remember reading some interesting comments on the doors of the Bodleian library toilets...though admit I can't recollect any of them now.)
  • Check out the state of the blogosphere with Technorati's annual report. It documents the estimated number of toilet doors in the blogopshere, how often bloggers use their spray cans etc
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Tuesday, 23 September 2008

The BBC and reporting insurgency

This is the main theme of my latest Frontline post. It follows on from yesterday's post about a conference I attended on how insurgents shape the media landscape.

Monday, 22 September 2008

How insurgents shape the media landscape

Part One describing the main themes of a conference last week on this topic at King's College London can be found here on my Frontline blog.

Friday, 19 September 2008

Daily Telegraph journalist on the state of the media

Roy Greenslade's latest journalistic venture is publishing emails he receives from journalists. A few days ago there was one from BBC freelancer, Malcolm Brabant, and now he's posted another from a Daily Telegraph journalist.

This journalist is worried about the future:
"The growth of blogs and online communities seems to be contributing plenty in the way of opinion, of which there's already plenty and not much in the way of facts. This is creating a brand of journalism in which it doesn't really matter if you get things wrong."
You might understand why I feel some of what has been said may not go down too well with the blogging advocates...

Thursday, 18 September 2008

Social Media Panel at the BBC

  • A very full room of people mainly from the World Service and Global News
  • Conspicuous by their absence: sandwiches.
  • Tuesday 16th September 2008
Matthew Eltringham
  • Explained that the UGC hub has been running for just over three years and receives around 12,500 emails a day. (Just thinking now that nobody asked him how many the BBC is capable of reading, replying to, etc).
  • Also said the BBC spends a lot of time engaging with social media on the Web already.
  • But pointed out how not to do it. Showed us an example of a BBC Producer who had posted on a New Orleans web forum in a none-too-clever fashion asking for interviewees who could talk about hurricane Gustav. The post received some pretty strong responses. Eltringham highlighted the importance of reaching out to people on their terms not on the BBC's terms.

Salam Adil
  • Is the Iraq contributor for Global Voices Online.
  • Global Voices is an independent non-profit organisation
  • Has over 100 volunteer authors, regional editors and translators
  • A core team of editors
  • Explained that Global Voices uses a Creative Commons Attribution Licence. This seemed to be news to one BBC journalist present who didn't realise they could use Global Voices material in this way.
  • Salam found that looking at what the media says and what bloggers have to say is enlightening:
"Especially when I was following Iraq, bloggers themselves are covering a completely different agenda to the journalists"

Kevin Anderson
  • Mainly talked about his upcoming US election project with The Guardian. In fact, he seems to have left the UK already. The plan is to travel around America meeting up with bloggers and voters along the route. He'll also be accompanied by a Guardian Films crew.
  • Intending to use any tool that he sees fit but mentioned Flickr, Youtube, FireEagle, (and no doubt several others that I didn't have a chance to note down as he reeled them off)
  • Made the observation that content shouldn't be imprisoned on your own website. It should be out there. This still seemed to be a surprise to one BBC questioner who asked whether that should mean that the BBC should drive traffic away from by linking out. (Anderson smiled in a resigned manner no doubt wondering whether he was in some kind of time warp.)

Jem Stone
  • Identified 3 challenges for the BBC
1. How to work with social media tools on the Web. Temptation for BBC journalists is to dive in when there is a news story without being authentic. BBC journalists need to try them out first and be involved in the community before they start them using them for the BBC. (Interestingly here there is a precedent with blogging. The BBC began by establishing a number of internal blogs before setting up the Blog Network.)

2. Curating blogs
The BBC is not good at collecting what is on the Web and making sense of it all in the way that Global Voices does.

3. Going to where people are
Reiterated this point that the BBC expect people to come to the BBC - i.e. rather than where they are. Pointed out that half of Internet users (in the UK?) never come to

Question on authentication and attribution of blogs etc?

Eltringham: Emphasised that this is basic journalism in a way. Need to apply the same rigour as other sources. Use cross-referencing, track down phone numbers and email addresses to get in contact with people.

Adil: Can look at the track record of bloggers by reading their archives. Generally bloggers wear their biases on their sleeves and there is rarely any money in blogging so not doing it for financial reasons.

Anderson: "This is traditional journalism with cutting edge tools". Also noted that some websites were doing a great job. Argued that blog coverage on Shanghaiist put the mainstream media to shame.

Monday, 15 September 2008

Links for today: BBC

  • An interview with Richard Sambrook, Director of the Global News Division in the Media Guardian:
"People say the BBC is expanding too fast and is overly aggressive. I see it the other way around, that we're in danger of falling behind because we're unable to keep up with what is going on out there. We've got to move as fast as we can. It would be a very peculiar time for the BBC to pull back from its international role. It's absolutely the time when the BBC should be moving forward internationally rather than moving back."
  • Alfred Hermida reports the opinions of Peter Horrocks, head of the multimedia newsroom, on changes to the BBC's newsroom. Stephen Mitchell, head of multimedia programmes, had his say on multimedia at the BBC in last week's Independent.
  • How to search discussions about the BBC on Facebook courtesy of Murray Dick, who trains BBC journalists in online research techniques.

Friday, 12 September 2008

New to the blog?

This blog has been going for a fair few months now, but if you're new to the blog, or to blogging in general, here's a quick guide to some of the current features available here.

(If you've read that sentence and thought: 'I'm not just new to the blog, I have NO IDEA what on earth this thing is', then check out this brilliant short video and you'll be right up to speed.)

1. Ordinary blog-standard postings - like this one. These used to be about Mediating Conflict - 'new media', war and terrorism but now most of these type of postings tend to be on my other blog at the Frontline Club. (You can find that here.) On this blog, I tend to write more about blogging and the media in general.

2. If there is nothing new in the ordinary posting section, fear not. On the sidebar you will see a list of my delicious bookmarks. Delicious is a way of sharing webpages you bookmark with other people. My bookmarks are constantly being updated as I save interesting and relevant online articles about blogging, media, war, terrorism, the BBC and how all of these things come together. All you have to do is click on one of the bookmarks in the sidebar and it will take you to the article.

3. If you want to find out what I'm up to at any given time, go again to the sidebar and you'll see my Twitter feed. This regularly lets you know what I'm doing a little bit like a Facebook status update. When you see something like "@Joebloggs", that means I'm replying to what somebody else has said on Twitter which won't make much sense unless you sign up and get involved.

4. Other sidebar features include an archive of all my postings and a 'newsfeed' that pulls in articles from Google News in various categories. You'll also find some sort of an answer to the question: 'Who the hell is this guy who writes this blog?'.

5. That big orange 'you've-been-tangoed' button that says "RSS feed" enables you to subscribe in a feedreader (like this one), so that you don't have to keep coming back to my blog to check out if I've written anything new. (It's a bit like the difference between having to go and collect your post from a pigeon-hole or central storage area and having someone deliver it directly to your door). If you set up a feed reader and subscribe to my feed you'll never miss anything I write. Ever. (Warning: this may not be desirable). You can do the same for my Frontline blog here. But you might just like to subscribe by email - using the link below the big orange button.

6. Finally, if you don't like what I've written, have some helpful additional info or just want to tell me what you think then you can leave a comment by clicking on the 'Comments' button that appears below an ordinary posting.

Recent Frontline posts: 9/11 and military blogging

I've written a couple of posts over at the Frontline blog. The first on 9/11 and the birth of blogging. The second, a quick link to an article on military blogging.

Wednesday, 10 September 2008

Links for today: blogs, multimedia, and linking

  • The Guardian is relaunching their blogs.
  • The Independent talks to the BBC's head of multimedia, Ian Burrell about the Corporation's multiplatform approach.
  • National media outlets fail on attribution and linking according to Adam Tinworth.
  • Which is made more interesting when you consider that Kevin Anderson reckons the way to fact-check online is to follow the links.

Tuesday, 9 September 2008

Google Chrome usage

Everyone's writing blog posts about how many people are now using Chrome - that's Google's new web-browser-cum-operating system for those of you that missed the fuss - to access their websites.

So I thought I'd let you know that only 0.75% of my visitors are using Chrome. That's not a high percentage, suggesting this blog is read by quaint old-fashioned types who prefer Firefox 3. I like it.

BBC Monitoring's Emerging Media 'Team'

Last week, I went to a talk by BBC Monitoring at Bush House on the Strand. The general gist was that blogs and other forms of social media are becoming increasingly important sources of information. No surprise there, then.

But I was rather taken aback by the fact that Vivien Sands from BBC Monitoring was not just representing the 'Emerging* Media Team'. She was and is the 'Emerging Media Team'. Which means she must be exceptionally busy - there's a lot of emerging media to monitor!

Vivien did go onto say that existing Monitors are being trained up in these emerging sources of information and regional specialists are already fully aware of blogs and the like. But I imagine she'll be hoping that her plan to increase the size of the Emerging Media Team will come to fruition.

Of all the emerging media available, Vivien said BBC Monitoring uses blogs the most. Although Monitoring does produce a weekly round up Iranian blogs, most of the time blogs will be scoured in relation to particular news events. Monitors will then put the best of the information together for the BBC and their other clients - such as the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the Ministry of Defence.

Recent BBC Monitoring projects include:
*I'm guessing the thinking here is that the 'new' media is no longer deemed to be 'new'. But then why replace it with emerging? Hasn't the 'new' media already 'emerged'? I'll carry on using the word 'emerging' in this post for consistency.

Friday, 5 September 2008

Links for today: Moult, the Mail and loose ends

  • This is a story about Julie Moult, of the Daily Mail, who wrote a poor article about Google-bombing. It's something of a warning to 'old media': respond to comments (and employ some basic fact-checking) or 'new media' will make you look silly. Very silly. (But remember folks it's not a war and we should all be working together...)
  • BBC's Evan Davis 'defends' Chancellor. Somewhere here is the line between personal opinion and professional judgement. See if you can spot it...
  • The EU wants to 'clarify' the position of blogs. That means 'labelling' them and sorting out their legal status etc.
  • A different model for journalism. Pitch a story and raise funds direct from the audience to report it.

Thursday, 4 September 2008

The cycle of a news story

Ok, so I liked Alison Gow's post about the lifecycle of a news story in the 21st Century.

I thought it would be worth combining with some of Paul Bradshaw's ideas in a Model for a 21st Century Newsroom.

I thought I might have a punt at visualising the news process as a cycle, rather than as a diamond or in a linear fashion.

I thought it might help reveal how the news story is 'unfinished', non-linear, and has the potential to regularly be adjusted by the interactivity offered by the Web.

I'm not sure I've entirely succeeded in what I thought, but I came up with this fine mess instead (if you click on it, it'll open so you can actually see it):

And after all, maybe journalism has become more of a mess than it used to be. Your comments most appreciated.

(I haven't included all the additional details available on Paul and Alison's posts of how journalists might achieve each stage because it was getting quite cramped already and they've covered most methods in any case.)

Tuesday, 2 September 2008

The basics of blogging

This is interesting.

Monday, 1 September 2008

Links for today: Australian blogosphere and blogging

Dr Axel Bruns is one of the leading academics on blogging in Australia. More than several days ago, he blogged some answers to questions about the Australian political blogosphere which is well worth a read:
  • "...let me start by saying that 'the blog' is simply a media technology (similar to 'the book' or 'the television'), which can be used in any number of different ways. And similar to those other media technologies (where we also don't speak of a 'booksphere' or 'televisionsphere', I've long argued that we're well past the point where to speak of 'blogging' as a unified form makes sense any more..."
And for the researchers among you, an attached discussion paper on a quantitative method for analysing blogs might be of interest.

An aside: While browsing the Collins English Dictionary the other day(!), I noticed that the word 'blogosphere' appears in the back of the 2006 edition under words to be considered for inclusion in future editions. I wonder if it made it in 2007 or 2008?

Blogging and Sources
  • The readers' editor of The Guardian considers UK law, protection of sources, journalistic privilege and blogging.
Blogging and Money
  • Last week, the BBC's Rory-Cellan Jones asked whether any Brits are making money from blogging. The answer: not many at the moment.
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