I am still trying to get used to blogging on WordPress and come up with things to write about. On my Examiner.com blog I know what to blog about my title is Yuma Culture & Events Examiner so blog on events and cultural events occurring in Yuma Arizona. I don’t run into problems of what to write for Examiner unless I run out of material write on as I don’t have information on upcoming events to share. On my WordPress blog though I can write about anything and that makes it more challenging to find out what to write about. One thing is certain web based journalism and blogging tools are a lot of fun.
One of the reasons few people seem to care about authoring/publishing their own websites these days is when you can publish to sites like WordPress.com, use Google’s Blogger service, Examiner.com, and us social networks like Facebook, Google+ and My Space paying a web hosting company to host your site is not as convenient or attractive as just using proprietary platforms to publish to the web from.
I mentioned in my last article the prevalence of filter bubbles which poses the question are social networks really social or anti social? The open web is a global advanced telecommunications network enabling free flow of information, communication and commerce. If we start sharing information only among our Google+ Circles, or friends in our Facebook lists then suddenly we become more isolated and only communicate with people in our individual groups. Sometimes communicating with friends in a group is fine but sometimes its good to break out of the group and meet new people. So are social networks helping us meet new people to interact with an make new friends or just confining us inside filter bubbles to our existing groups of friends.
Sharing information across the web is simple using soocial networks like Google+, Twitter, My Space, Facebook, Yahoo Updates, and LinkedIn but again are the social networks social or anti social? Also what about privacy issues and the fact some social networks care less about protecting privacy than others? Fortunately new open source alternatives are emerging like Diaspora to challenge Facebook that are more respecting of user privacy but what if they perpetuate the filter bubbles? Social media has its pros and cons just like any other media. I much prefer new media in general over the old media but would prefer to support more open platforms. I like that WordPress.com is enabling their bloggers to create iPad optimized versions of their sites making them look like rich HTML 5 web apps.
There are plenty of web based companies offering blogging tools online. Some like WordPress.com are for individual bloggers to freely sign up for and blog what they want. Then there are professional blogging sites like Examiner.com recruit and pay individuals to blog for their site Even web company Yahoo with their Yahoo Contributor Network recruits photographers, videographers, writers and bloggers to blog for their sites and offers them compensation for their work.
Previously I mentioned a new HTML 5 web authoring/web publishing tool called Hype by a startup named Tumult now in the Mac App Store. Well now interestingly Adobe maker of the popular Flash platform is creating a new product Edge to create stunning HTML 5 interactive websites. They are providing professionals who use Adobe products an alternative to Flash so they can create websites with rich animations that can be viewed on Apple’s iOS devices that don’t support Flash. Adobe is also offering Flash to HTML 5 conversion tools while continuing to develop Flash Professional.
As you can see at the bottom of my blog posts I have added a Creative Commons license to my posts. I hope WordPress.com will soon support Mozilla’s Open Attribute technology to make attributing Creative Commons work easier. Speaking of Mozilla I think their Drumbeat project MoJo in partnership with the Knight Foundation to harness open web innovations for journalism sounds really cool.
I really like Readability a web and mobile app which offers a free browser plugin to Mozilla Firefox, Apple Safari, Google Chrome and Opera users to freely bypass online clutter and ads. Now this would raise a dilemma of course for online publishers. You see with printed newspapers consumers have never had to pay for information rather the advertisers would pay newspapers to be able to run ads in the paper which compensate the newspapers for the cost of producing the news content and readers would be charged for the newspaper to recompensate the newspapers for producing a physical product. When news first started becoming available online though they provided advertisements so the news could be made available freely online. However with Readability and Apple’s Safari Reader feature launched in Safari 5 offering readers a way to bypass the ads how can publishers make money? Readability has come up with an answer for that with an alternative compensation model.
Readability not only allows readers to zap online clutter but with their premium service you pay a subscription fee to use you can save web articles to a convenient online reading list. Instapaper also offers a similar service but their reading list service is free to sign up for and use. However, when signed into your Instapaper account unless you opt to become a paying Instapaper subscriber you will have ads in your reading list. Simply upgrading to a subscription account removes the ads in your Instapape account and any in your reading list. Interestingly, Apple with the release of Safari 5.1 has added a browser based reading list feature to their web browser. Safari’s Reading List though which is free to use and does not require an account certainly lacks some of the functionality Readability and Instapaper’s reading list services have.
Furthermore some media companies have complained about Google providing free access to their news stories. To its credit Google wanting a better reptuation with journalists, possibly feeling bad about what its business has allegedly done to newspapers is giving money to fund online journalism efforts. I think the Internet is not what is really harmed journalism but media consolidation. I support noncommercial, independent public media outlets like NPR and PBS. I also support stopping and reversing media consolidation. We need to hear more international perspectives and get more local and independent coverage despite corporate news media outlets closing foreign news bureaus, laying off journalists and slashing their budgets for original news and reporting.
TV news channels focus more on commentary and the anchor’s opinions than in providing credible news. Today there is too little investigative journalism and too much soft news, spin, sensationalism, and celebrity gossip. Corporate media are less willing to hold corporations and governments accountable and fulfill the watchdog role the media is supposed to perform. What is needed is more diversity in the airwaves and more local coverage for audiences.