Focus: Connections, design, serendipity, and a long, long tail
The best: Dan Gillmor’s blog. This site appears to be Gillmor’s personal space, not associated with the Center for Citizen Media. It answered a big question for me this morning, and sent me on some serendipitous rabbit trails.
The tale starts with a “404 Not Found” message at the Center for Citizen Media. I searched Google for Gillmor to see whether he had suddenly disappeared from the Internet, found his blog, and got my answer that the Center’s site was down. That in itself is a good lesson for bloggers who are hosted somewhere else: Have a findable backup place where you can tell your readers what’s going on. They’ll love you for it.
Gillmor’s personal site’s serendipity then sent me to some interesting places, past and present:
Doc Searls weblog: This early web visionary is alive and well and sharing through a Harvard blog. He’s a fellow with the Berkman Center and has focused on business and the web for years.
His site led me to the Cluetrain Manifesto, a place I had not been in years. This manifesto, circa 1999, speaks louder than ever at a time when many people are ringing their hands about the state of business and the Internet, especially the media business.
Then on to Harvard blogs, a place where many smart people are writing.
Then on to Reflections from Beijing, a place that has not forgotten about Burma. The region’s woes might have fallen off the radar of big media quickly, but the issue of communication access there and in China remains a high priority for some big brains, young and old.
The best worst (warning: turn down your sound before you click): The World’s Worst Website.
It speaks for itself.
Today’s focus: sustainability.
The best: Cognitive Daily, a blog about cognitive psychology from a couple in Davidson. The academic focus is refreshing. The blog has a high-quality institutional ad from Dow Chemical, plus contribution boxes and links to a network of science blogs that support each other. You could question the ethics of taking money from Dow, but this blog’s ability to sustain itself with quality information over time is amazing. It has two authors, which helps, plus a network of other blogs to increase traffic and provide further content and support. Great site, great network.
The worst: Don’t back down. This Charlotte area blog seems to be an exercise in seeing how many Google line ads can be squeezed into a small basic Blogger template. Design is sad. Lots of wasted space on either side of the template, and then the Google ads dominate the top of the blog, providing readers with a shopper-type atmosphere from which they’ll likely click quickly away. The post is a history lesson on Columbus Day — not unique information, but merely a vehicle, it appears, for the ads. Sustainability relies on quality, unique content, with a sponsor that provides more than the pennies that liner Google ads provide.
Today’s best: Nine Neighbors, a filtering and aggregating tool for local blog readers in Boston with clean, elegant design. At the moment, it appears as if there are only five neighbors, but I guess it will grow. How found? Followed a link from a comment at Scott Karp’s Publishing 2.0 blog from Rick Burnes. He made a smart comment on a post, “Should newspapers become local blog networks?”
He said: “I don’t think local news organizations are going to get very far by simply publishing more content, which is what the effect of a blog network would be.
Folks already struggle with an abundance of content. The way to help them (read: generate revenue) is to find ways to organize/filter that content for them.”
Worst: N.C. Blogs, which has been around for a very long time. This site is the most comprehensive aggregator of North Carolina blogs, but will eat hours of your life if you let it, without lots of concrete, useful information. The site has not had a design update in quite awhile, and it shows. I love an aggregator if some thought has been given to taxonomy and organization; you can search this site by geography these days, but it has grown to the point that it needs more classification of content.
I had concerns about identifying any site talking about citizen journalism as a “worst” site, because I have so much to learn from everyone. But I Googled “mainstream media,” which took some months for dense
me to realize was code for “liberal-leaning East Coast-centric media that doesn’t agree with my political stance on their editorial pages.”
And I found one. So on to it:
Today’s Worst: Sad Bastards, also titled, “The end of elite media empires and rise of citizen journalism: News you don’t see in the mainstream media. We have their playbooks. They can’t stop us.”
The site has an obvious right-wing political agenda, and some posters there seem to have a reckless disregard for spelling. All of that is fine, and certainly, no one can stop them from posting. That’s the beauty of the Internet. Still, please do not call it journalism. Good journalism at least tries to aim for objectivity, and smart journalists know that there are always more than two sides to any story, and they recognize they have their own personal “filters” for judging and writing news. The best ones work for objectivity and balance with that understanding.
Today’s best: Global Voices Online,a non-profit global citizens’ media project founded at Harvard Law School’s Berkman Center for Internet and Society. This site is one of my primary five sites listed in my research proposal. I had not explored it extensively previously, but had a hunch that it would be inspiring because of its association with Harvard. The site has a manifesto, but not one that takes a particular political stance beyond supporting free speech. It says in part: “We pledge to respect, assist, teach, learn from, and listen to one other.”
I urge you to visit. Not all of the links are apolitical, but they will broaden your world.
The title of classmate Jessica’s blog, From the Middle of Nowhere to Everywhere, only gets better over time.
The first time I visited, it didn’t really hit me how apt a title it was. She grew up in a small town and now works in international public relations. A social mistake because of cultural differences could be incredibly harmful to her work. Her awareness of those cultural differences is key.
But part of me is now thinking of the parallels between small-town life and cross-cultural communication. I remember hearing that in one non-U.S. society, you will be offered food, and your polite decline of that food will not be taken seriously until the food has been offered three times.
Sure sounds like my great-Aunt Teenie’s kitchen in Macon, Ga.
Some social considerations seem to be pervasive in many cultures, and often those broad-reaching considerations are rooted in religious beliefs as well: welcome the stranger with hospitality, accept friends of friends as warmly as you would accept the original friend, be nice to your elders and your in-laws.
I welcome the chance to learn more as the class continues.
If the Internet were only a tool for text-oriented work, I don’t think I’d be here.
Yo La Tenga’s “My Little Corner of the World” is playing in the background as I write, a treat from a class blog from Boris, “It’s a gas!”
Earlier, I was envious of the beautiful photoblog link I found through “Lisa’s Look at Global Communication.” I’m not going to link directly to her link here — you’ll just have to go to her place, look around and enjoy.
For me, the auditory and visual treats of the web keep me coming back. Here’s hoping I can provide some treats for the class as well.