Introducing Homer: The Blogware-agnostic Feed-based Homepage Creator for the ‘News Blob’ – Alexander Shaw

So this is a Ruby-powered news aggregator publishing system. Meaning, it makes it easy to curate individual items from the feeds you tell it to watch. Add items to slots on a homepage, or topic page, for example, and it becomes a powerful aggregation publishing system.

Introducing Homer: The Blogware-agnostic Feed-based Homepage Creator for the ‘News Blob’ – Alexander Shaw

Placeblogger: More human than ever

Check out the redesigned Placeblogger a 2007 Knight News Challenge winner.

The aggregation-by-location niche seems to be blowing up lately, especially as startups try to hitch their maps to the iPhone’s wagon, but Placeblogger feels like real live humans are writing blog posts in real live places.  I like that.

via the Knight Foundation Blog.

See also: Build your own local news application using Outside.In’s API

Packaging national election headlines for local news sites with Publish2

Happy Election Day-After!

I’m still up to my neck in post-election analytics, gathering stats and data from hundreds of news sites I work with to do a little postmortem on what worked, who learned some new tricks, and what the readers thought of it.

One of the things we put together here at GateHouse for Election Day coverage was a national election news widget.

Because I work with small-town and rural community newspapers, national news is the last thing I want reporters and editors to spend time on while local election results are coming in.  Copying and pasting AP stories?  No.

But, wouldn’t it be nice to have a constant stream of headlines available for readers obsessively pounding the refresh button looking for updates on local races?  Without depending on any one source, like the AP, that everyone else has on their sites?

Yeah, it would:

Neosho Daily News on November 5

This is a screenshot of a chunk of the content well at a small (think: sub-10,000 print circulation) news site in Southwestern Missouri.

The top part of it is list of headlines that we’re putting together with Publish2.

I’ve been working with editors from the GateHouse News Service to use Publish2 as a bookmarking engine to route headlines from our browsers to that widget on many GateHouse sites.  In fact, the news service has been using it for months now to feed links to their Elections page.  You can find notes on that use and our use of Publish2 to feed Hurricane Gustav headlines to sites in Lousiana here.

Here’s why we’re getting so much use out of this:

  1. It’s simple. Use a bookmarklet, surf the Web, hit the button when you find a story to share.
  2. It’s diverse. You choose the sources, you push the buttons, you curate the content.
  3. It’s timely. I sat in front of my laptop last night, scanning, Google News, Yahoo News, the network’s sites, big national papers, Memeorandum, Twitter, and Google Reader, plucking the results off the pages and bookmarking the link with Publish2, giving local sites an instant feed of national headlines.

Scott Karp started telling about his plans for Publish2 more than a year ago, when it quickly inspired me to start thinking about ReportingOn, based on what Publish2 didn’t do; but he keeps developing the idea, and I think he makes a strong case for using it as a tool for curating the Web in a way that makes sense for news organizations.

Yes, yes, I know that you could do something similar with Delcious or Google Reader or FriendFeed or even a Twitter account, but Publish2 has a by-journalists-for-journalists feel that I like.  You’re not repurposing some other app to do what you want; this is designed to do what you want, and even allow you some editorial control, or even to group users with access to a set of links.

Check it out.  Curate the Web that your community cares about.

Alltop is Popurls for everything

Guy Kawasaki and his friends at Alltop have been building a series of cute little aggregators a la popurls that are full of headlines from a set of hand-picked blogs submitted by people who pay attention to Guy and friends in places like Twitter.

Myself included.

And so, you’ll find Invisible Inkling listed now at both and That second one makes heavy use of an OPML file I offered to Guy, so if it suddenly drives a lot of traffic your way, I think you owe me a beer. Guy can buy his own beer.

Scobleization plus three years

Three years and two days ago, I got Scobleized.

The highlight of Robert’s informal talk was when he plugged his tablet into the projector in a packed room at the SJSU/MLK library and showed us his aggregator.

It was Bloglines at the time, not that it mattered.

I was blown away by the amount of information — and the quality — that Scoble’s 1200 or so subscriptions provided.

I had started reading a few blogs, and I was probably still using Firefox Live Bookmarks to track them.

By the end of the semester there were more than 200 feeds in my Bloglines account.

That was three years ago, at the very beginning of my New Media / blogging / future-of-newspapers adventures.

Another thing that sticks in my mind that day was Robert’s first question to a newsroom full of “reporting and editing” majors, something along the lines of “How many of you think you’ll be working for a newspaper in 5 or 10 years?”

He lost his audience when he told the roomful of undergraduates with their hands raised that they were wrong, and that they would be working for some other sort of online news organization, or as individual bloggers, but not certainly not in paper- and ink-based news.

Didn’t lose me, though.

Show off your front pages

David Weinberger describes the unbundling of media in clear terms:

“I’ve been saying for a while, and I think in Everything Is Miscellaneous, that the new front page is distributed across our day and our network. Much of it comes through our inbox. It consists of people we know and people we don’t know recommending items for our interest.”

If you still think ‘readers’ are dependent on ‘editors’ to filter the news for them… Actually, if you still think that, there’s not much that I can do. You should go explore Digg or the Huffington Post or Slashdot or whatever social media site you can find that interests you. Wire editors should check out Newsvine, for example. Actually seeing social media in action (extra points for participation) will make it seem a bit less nebulous, I promise.

My front page, in roughly the priority I cycle through it in the morning over breakfast:

  • Gmail
  • Google Reader
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google News, including sections for specific places and topics
  • My local online newspaper (This was much higher on the list when I worked there.)
  • My delicious network (I rarely get this far these days, but that’s where I just pulled the Weinberger post from, via Kevin.)

So what does your front page look like? Digg? NYT? YouTube? Netvibes? None of the above?
‘Splain yourself below…

Oh, and if you really need to see some well-designed newspaper front pages, have at ’em.