Notes on the future of social bookmarking from the founder of now-dead, soon-to-return Ma.gnolia.com.
Muxtape has my attention.
It’s not terribly social. It’s not much of a network.
In fact, it’s so devoid of features, there’s little to distract you from listening to music, which is what you showed up to do.
The front page of the site is dead simple: A colorful list of mixtapes to listen to, with relatively opaque usernames that offer only hints of what might be behind the link.
So, at the start, if no one sent you a link to a particular mix, you’re just free to browse the tapes, listen to anything you want, find one with a familiar band’s name in it somewhere, and you’re off.
Talk about serendipity.
So, because I’m obsessed with thinking about how to present “news” online in unconventional ways that might hold a reader’s interest a little bit longer and keep them around your site long enough to find that enterprise/investigative/database piece you worked so hard at, it occurs to me that this could work for a news site.
Yeah, a news site. What did you think I was going to say?
So, instead of the recommendation-engine driven approach of a Digg or an Amazon or Netflix, or even network-based link firehoses like Delicious, Facebook, or Twitter, this would take a purely serendipitous approach:
A user shows up, adds 10 links to a mix, gives it a clever name, and moves on. No bulky profiles, no following, no activity feeds; just 10 good stories, as if they were a mixtape.
Sounds like a serious timesink to me…
If you prefer my tweets and shared reader bits and delicious links to the infrequent and sometimes long-winded content here at what passes for a blog, click on through from that reader of yours and take a look at the right side of your screen. (Actually, let me check that in a few browsers first… OK, we’re cool.)
You’ll find a stream of links, and some other stuff that was buried a bit lower until a few minutes ago.
(Thanks to the folks at SimplePie, especially for the WordPress plugin. It. Is. Rather. Simple.)
A new google service that appears to collect all the stuff you share via Facebook, Delicious, Digg, etc. in one place, provided you use the google bookmarklet to do it, I imagine.
If you still need someone to explain how social bookmarking and news sites work (like Digg), this Wall Street Journal article has got your back. The WSJ links out to the profiles of users they mention, which is cool.
A few familiar social bookmarking icons can now be spotted on stories at NYTimes.com. Just look for the Share heading in the Article Tools box. Click on it, and Digg, Facebook, and Newsvine buttons drop down, along with an all-important Permalink option that issues a linkrot-proof way to blog about the story in question, no trip to the RSS feed or old Link Generator page necessary.
Daniel Sato, online editor of the Spartan Daily student newspaper at San Jose State University, is trying to come up with a way to let readers vote their own stories up the charts, to tackle the twin problems of there being little sense of community at SJSU (online OR off, in my opinion) and organizations constantly complaining that the school paper ignores them.
He’s talking about using Pligg to build a site where clubs and teams can essentially submit links to their own stories, and then the readers can vote on them as they please, a la Digg.
Will it work?
I’m skeptical, but then again, the first time Daniel pointed me to Digg, I wrote the site off as a bunch of losers who didn’t know anything about the stories they were voting on.
What do you think? Would you give your readers a “Submit This” button and then let them vote stories up and down a user-generated-content page?
Danny Sanchez at Journalistopia reports on a newspaper blog panel at the National Writers’ Workshop in Fort Lauderdale.
His takeaways are a small sample of what reporters-who-blog think about what they do, and how they do it.
“Don’t take the writing on your blog for granted. Streeter once got 90 comments from rabid fans of American Idol contender Kellie Pickler (See: Kellie Pickler, Evil Genius?). Streeter had suggested that Pickler was faking her whole “Ca-lah-mah-ree” bit. FOX News even reported on the comments in her blog.” [his links, not mine]
The moral of that particular part of the story has a lot to do with understanding how search works, how blogs work, and getting an idea of what sort of blog post will bring in readers from outside your circulation range. If you pay any attention to what makes the front/popular pages of social bookmarking sites like Digg and Delicious, you start to notice what gets noticed.
If you’re unfamiliar with those sites, try looking at something like popurls.com first. It aggregates headlines from lots of those more-popular-every-day spaces. Check it once a day, try not to get sucked into the YouTube vortex, and note what you see.
Read Erik Nelson’s blog post about his commute. It kind of makes me want to get dirty fixing up our old bikes.
[Full disclosure for those of you taking notes: I worked with Erik at my internship this summer and designed his current blog template.]
Jay Rosen lays all his cards on the table, posting his plans for NewAssignment.net, a to-be-constructed site where reporters and The People Formerly Known As The Audience can party together.
And by “party together,” I mean the masses can use all their social bookmarking/tagging/networking power to point to the stories they want to see covered more and/or better.
So instead of using all these great new Web 2.0 tools to let “users” point other people to the already-extant content they like (a la Digg, Newsvine, etc.), Jay is proposing we use the new toolbox to let “readers” be the assignment editors, pushing for the stories they want to know more about.
But more than that, now the “readers” get to play along at home, doing some distributed journalism of their own, for example, tracking the price of a prescription drug in their neighborhoods to figure out whether it’s being priced differently in different parts of the country. From Jay’s example:
The users help find out what a drug costs “everywhere.” It would be hard for a reporter to do that alone. Journalists are hired to get answers to questions developed by users, filtered through editors, who in turn enforce a certain standard of excellence, fairness and transparency that is indistinguishable from New Assignment’s reputation.
The masses of interested citizens drives not only story selection, but provides a paid journalist with information and ammunition to seek out the answers to their questions.
There’s plenty more of this in Jay’s post.
For even more, listen to the Citizen Journalism session from last month’s Bloggercon.
In his column in the Guardian, Jeff Jarvis does his “scary blogboy dance” (his words, not mine – but I do identify) for the CUNY J-School faculty, including a number on Digg, the social bookmarking site that makes Slashdot look like a quaint relic dug up from the vaults of Usenet.
The concept behind Digg is disarmingly simple: when members find stories of interest – so far, mostly about tech – they recommend the articles to others at the site. The members get credit for being the first to find stories, which means that you have 150,000 editors fighting to find the good stuff fast, and that makes Digg a great source for timely tech news. Once the articles appear on Digg, members click to check them out, sending huge traffic to each article; this is known as “the Digg effect”. If the articles pass muster, members vote them onto the front page – they “digg” the stories, get it? And so the community creates the front page. We are the editor. Imagine if there were a parallel front page to this paper, edited by you and the smart community that gathers here. (Not a bad idea, eh?)
If your knees just jerked off the ground and the words “popularity contest” came to mind, you’ll have to read Jarvis’ column to learn why it doesn’t work that way.