Women's Health Base

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Posts Tagged ‘web 2.0’

How Stephen Fry embraced web 2.0, the world and generation Y

Posted by hannahflynn on December 7, 2008

There were murmurs in the maglab that if you followed Stephen Fry on Twitter he would follow you. I didn’t quite believe it, but as a member of Stephen Fry’s Proxy Friendship Group on Facebook I thought I would be a fool to ignore the possible intimacy of a ‘Twitter follow’ from the man himself, so I looked him up and… followed*. 

Sure enough a week or so later, I checked my ‘followers’ and Fry himself was listed among them. But that is not the end of the story. Anyone who has decided to amuse themselves by following Fry will have been taken to Indonesia, Soho and New York and back over the last couple of weeks with not only his wonderfully verbose use of 140 characters but also his use of twitpix. He has also done some cleverest stuff I have seen so far with hashtags.

Anyone who has read Dork Talk is well aware that Fry is a web 2.0 addict, he refers to his relaunched webpage as www.stephenfry.com 2.0 which is littered with, amongst other things: a blog, status updates, ‘podgrames’ and fora.

While Stephen Fry is not purely a journalist, journalists-as-brands could learn a lot from the way Fry has tackled the web. As a current JOMEC student I can merely dream of the number of followers a brand like Fry has, but a not particularly long look at his web presence does offer an insight into how he has done it:

1) Link it all up. The website shows his Twitter updates and hosts his blog which links to his Guardian column. His Facebook group links to the website, as does his Twitter. The list could go on…

2) Write what you know. Yes, it is a lot less interesting if you are not a crowned member of the glitterazi, but its worth considering this old maxim from time to time when trying to carve your niche in the big wide web.

3) Update regularly. He has short sharp blog posts and provides a running stream of commentary on his status updates, which lots of people comment on. Though some people I know have stopped following Fry on Twitter due to the frequency of his updates, leading to a kind of Twitter-swarm…

4) Be a bit middle-class. People are far more likely to actively subscribe to and participate in your content (ie. comment) if they are able to fork out for a broadband connection. Without wanting to make sweeping statements, I imagine the Stephen Fry fan demographic are.

5) Be linked to a reputable news source. Obvious and difficult, but the column Fry has in the Guardian does lend a kudos to his other material.

*We need to come up with a verb meaning ‘to follow on Twitter’. You can Facebook someone but can you Twitter them?


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Facebook: The Voice of the People?

Posted by hannahflynn on October 16, 2008

Those who watched the last installment of Jamie Oliver’s new campaign for social justice, The Ministry of Food, on Channel 4 last Tuesday will know it was not going well. The people of Rotherham weren’t getting their mates round for a cook-up as Jamie’s food revolution manifesto had insisted on. So, he’s gone online.

On to MySpace to be exact*. And I’m left wondering; why didn’t he think of this earlier? A quick googling session later and its clear others have already jumped on the Ministry of Food bandwagon. Fans have already set up a website based on Jamie’s ‘pass-it-on’ campaign, which links to their Facebook page. Students’ favourite, Beyond Baked Beans has a Facebook page which has recently started promoting the ‘pass-it-on idea’ with a vlog showing people how to cook the recipes from the book. A brilliant branding idea.

Its not surprising as any campaign group worth its salt has at least a Facebook group these days. These are not only used as a forum for its members, but also as a recruitment and advertising technique which ensures as large a group as possible is aware of its presence.

It has been touched upon in lectures but I have failed to find many good examples of the positive influence that social networking can have on campaigns and grassroots activism. Then, completely by accident, a little experiment has fallen into my lap…

Wasting time cruising on Facebook, I found a post on a group’s wall looking for people willing to set up a feminist group in Cardiff. I fired off a message saying I was interested and ended up at a Cardiff Feminist Society – Founders Forum meeting at Milgi’s last night.

Having already discovered this using Web 2.0 social networking facilities I have decided to carry on in this vein. So, I have set up a community blog, a Facebook group, a Yahoo group and a posting on 43 Things to get the ball rolling.

Lets see what happens!

*Not Facebook as was suggested in the lecture!

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Who is Using UGC?

Posted by hannahflynn on October 12, 2008

A lot of people have been asking who the ‘online community’ that we keep on referring to is at JOMEC over the last couple of weeks. People have been blogging on it, debates have been raging in and out of the classroom and our most recent lecture was on who the ‘U’ in ‘UGC’ is. While it has pretty much been established that the contributors are not representative of the public as a whole, I have been questioning who it is that actually reads, watches and otherwise engages with user contributions.

The simplest answer to that question is pretty much everybody. Heather Hopkins head of research at Hitwise UK tells us that user-generated sites are becoming increasingly popular with people looking for news, “Earlier this year, we looked at three major news events: Saddam Hussein’s hanging, Zinedine Zidane’s head-butt during the World Cup, and the Israel-Lebanon conflict.

“When we looked at how people were searching for those events, and where they went after they’d searched, we found Google News, Wikipedia and YouTube figured more prominently than the sites of mainstream media news companies.”

This is being acknowledged by media chiefs, who must “adapt or die” according to ITV online Jon Godel. “We believe it is important to gauge the mood of the public and some members of the community, ethnic minorities or those with niche interests who have a social experience that is just not represented in mainstream news shows,” he said.

But what is the best way to do this with out undermining the tradition of quality news that these media centres have built their empires on? The BBC and CNN are the two biggest media corporations to develop separate user generated content sites: CNN with iReport and the BBC with Have Your Say. Jack Schofield recently argued in the Guardian, that providing these separate services with their own branding ensures that readers “do not confuse its professional news service with an unfiltered platform run by users.”

He may be right. As web 2.0 ensures that UGC = page views = advertising = money, it is important that users of UGC are able to see that it is just that. It’s not quality or investigative journalism… but it does give them a voice.

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Multimedia and Breaking News

Posted by hannahflynn on October 9, 2008

With multimedia journalism broadening the opportunities for user generated content (e.g. uploading video), it could be argued that multimedia opportunites are be best utilised when accompanying topics that the user can actively engage with. While this does limit the areas that will benefit from multimedia reporting, these are increasing as Web 2.0 takes over.

People at the forefront of online journalism are acknowledging this. Mindy McAdams, who has written a book on the subject, refers to Jim Ray, a multimedia producer at MSNBC.com in her blog.

He says, “We are not out breaking Watergate, its not the right medium for that.

“What we can do is take a complex issue and make it personal to a user who comes to our site and help them understand it better. We can provide a context and a different way to experience that story.”

Looking at the Guardian website today, its top UK multimedia story is about wardens being employed to sort out fights between cyclists and pedestrians. Hardly breaking news, but it is something that many users will be able to engage with.

The red tops are in on it too. The Mirror’s top video news story today investigates the possibility of a fuel price difference ban. This is also focused on the public’s opinion where possible.

You may also be interested in having a look at what onlinejournalismblog’s students did when faced with a Flash journalism assignment, which involved engaging with a number of multimedia forms of reporting. Fascinatingly they almost all chose to represent ethical and environmental issues, rather than engage with traditionally newsworthy topics.

And all you micro blogging aficionados out there should know they were twittering as they did it…

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