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What Communication Experts Need To Know - Breaking News About Ideas, Digital Tools, Methods And Skills To Communicate And Learn More Effectively With New Media Technologies (daily)
Media Literacy: Making Sense Of New Technologies And Media by George Siemens - Jun 6 09
"Media literacy is an expanded conceptualization of literacy. By transforming the process of media consumption into an active and critical process, people gain greater awareness of the potential for misrepresentation and manipulation, and understand the role of mass media and participatory media in constructing views of reality." (Source: Wikipedia)
Media_literacy_georgesiemens_size485.jpg Photo credit: mseyfang Inside this Media Literacy Digest:
  • Where We Are Spending Time… - Facebook and Twitter are recording enormous increases in amount of time spent on their sites by visitors.
  • Privacy Online: Google Is Watching - Offline, very few things are private - it wouldn’t take someone much time to find out my daily commute, coffee drinking habits, etc. Online, however, this information is more readily available. We can discover personal information about others with very little effort.
  • Investigating The Application of Social Software To Support Networked Learning - ...suggests that “university students need to learn new network and software literacies to become digital citizens”.
  • Google Wave - While Google has somewhat stalled in innovating in search, they have (with Apps, Docs, Knol, and now Wave) started to position themselves as a productivity and collaboration company.
  • We Are Witnessing The Passing of Working-Class Masculinity - We are witnessing historical shifts as society re-creates value points not based solely on physical work and property.
  • Modernizing Corporate Training - this post on modernizing corporate training is worth a read, even if only for the irony. It explores the history of corporate learning from 1980’s to today.
  • How Much Information? - ...information workers, who comprise about 63% of the U.S. work force, are each bombarded with 1.6 gigabytes of information on average every day through emails, reports, blogs, text messages, calls and more.
Here all the details:

eLearning Resources and News

learning, networks, knowledge, technology, trends by George Siemens

Where We Are Spending Time…

Media_literacy_digest_georgesiemens_time_id408031.jpg Facebook and Twitter are recording enormous increases in amount of time spent on their sites by visitors. Twitter records an increase of over 3700% (year over year). Understanding which sites are increasing is use is only part of the discussion. I’d like to know what we are doing less. My email use is still the same as last year. I still read the same number of RSS feeds. I can’t think of anything I’ve dropped from my online habits. I’m still at a “net add” stage. Guess that will have to change soon…

Privacy Online: Google Is Watching

Media_literacy_digest_georgesiemens_google _privacy_id21064431.jpg I’ve noticed a surge in interest in privacy and tracking. Several family members and friends have closed Facebook accounts, set Twitter and FriendFeed sites to “private”, and stopped using Chrome (or other tools that are too heavily reliant on one company). The interest in privacy is still somewhat isolated - many people appear to feel that paying with personal data to use monetarily-free tools is a reasonable transaction. Offline, very few things are private - it wouldn’t take someone much time to find out my daily commute, coffee drinking habits, etc. Online, however, this information is more readily available. We can discover personal information about others with very little effort. Even more disconcerting is the fact that large companies like Google are incredibly active in tracking users activity. Facebook is direct in stating that they collect indirect information about site users and that they will “collect information about you from other sources, such as newspapers, blogs, instant messaging services, and other users of the Facebook.Privacy is an issue that flares up occasionally, but we are quickly placated and distracted.

Investigating The Application of Social Software To Support Networked Learning

Media_literacy_digest_georgesiemens_networked_learning_id17106901.jpg Investigating the Application of Social Software to Support Networked Learning (.pdf) suggests that “university students need to learn new network and software literacies to become digital citizens”. In addition to being literate (and therefore be able to participate in the consequential conversations occurring through, or mediated by, technology), authors state students spend surprisingly limited time in socialization (p. 17). As background, Vincent Tinto has produced a model that promotes academic and social integration as key requirements to student retention. Students who feel connected to each other an the institution are less likely to drop out. I’m not familiar with studies to date that have looked at social networking services as a resource for reducing attrition... but it’s a worthwhile concept to explore… Later in the report, the authors share a view that innovators on many campuses likely hold:
Centralised ICT Services departments have proved a barrier to the exploration of innovative emerging online technologies and services being explored in this project.

Google Wave

Media_literacy_digest_georgesiemens_google_wave.gif I thought Wolfram Alpha was hyped (though it presents a very interesting approach to finding / using information online - I’ve collected reactions to Wolfram on my delicious search tag). Google’s soon to be released Wave will, in contrast to Microsoft’s release of Bing will be an entirely new exercise in hype and media attention. Wave is another offering in Google’s products for the enterprise. While Google has somewhat stalled in innovating in search, they have (with Apps, Docs, Knol, and now Wave) started to position themselves as a productivity and collaboration company.

We Are Witnessing The Passing of Working-Class Masculinity

Media_literacy_digest_georgesiemens_masculinity_id660765.jpg An editorial on the change in society as entire industries fade (or are rendered unrecognizable) overnight: We are witnessing the passing of working-class masculinity.
No matter what you think of the auto industry... It’s the end of an era... for an entire way of life, when a man with a high-school education could raise a family, have a house with a backyard pool, and buy his-and-hers motorcycles so he can tool around the countryside with his wife on weekends. Bill is not to blame for what has happened to him. He’s simply been flattened by history
After you read the editorial, you might find a recent publication from the Martin Prosperity Institute worthwhile. We are witnessing historical shifts as society re-creates value points not based solely on physical work and property. BTW - RIP: A Remix Manifesto (the last third of the video) questions whether the current approach to intellectual property is logical... suggesting that much of the global alterations in copyright law are driven by the US move from routine labour to an economy based on creativity and intelligence.

Modernizing Corporate Training

Media_literacy_digest_georgesiemens_modernizing_corporate_training_id424361.jpg I generally resist linking to organizations that monitor and use the ideas generated in the social / learning / tech space, and then produce reports that fail to acknowledge sources of inspiration. However, this post on modernizing corporate training is worth a read, even if only for the irony. It explores the history of corporate learning from 1980’s to today. Today, according to the report (and roughly every other consultant) is the age of collaboration. And then they freely sprinkle half a dozen “registered trademark” signs. How quickly pundits recognize (monetize) change but fail to integrate change into actual practice. The post concludes that we are going through the most important changes in corporate learning in the last ten years. Really? Thanks for the insight! If this pablum counts as corporate learning insight, maybe the training departments in institutions should be dismantled.

How Much Information?

Media_literacy_digest_georgesiemens_information_id28009281.jpg In 2003, UC at Berkeley released a report titled How Much Information. This was just at the beginning of blog’s popularity, and prior to YouTube and podcasting. Nice to hear that an updated report will be released this year. Preliminary data, according to WSJ, states that
information workers, who comprise about 63% of the U.S. work force, are each bombarded with 1.6 gigabytes of information on average every day through emails, reports, blogs, text messages, calls and more”.
1.6 gigabytes of info a day. Wow. That’s more than 1000 times the storage of my first computer with a hard drive. And I thought that was a lot :).

Originally written by George Siemens for elearnspace and first published on Jun 6th, 2009 in his newsletter eLearning Resources and News.

About the author George-Siemens.jpg To learn more about George Siemens and to access extensive information and resources on elearning check out Explore also George Siemens connectivism site for resources on the changing nature of learning and check out his new book "Knowing Knowledge".

Photo credits: Where We Are Spending Time… - Elnur Amikishiyev Privacy Online: Google Is Watching - Sergey Galushko Investigating The Application of Social Software To Support Networked Learning - Yuri Arcurs We Are Witnessing The Passing of Working-Class Masculinity - MaxFX Modernizing Corporate Training - Andres Rodriguez How Much information? - Picsfive
Why Knowledge Sharing Is The Future Of Organizations And What Leadership Should Do To Embrace Such Power Change
As power is moving away from hierarchically-structured organizations to newer forms of collaborative, bottom-up, open-sharing approaches, what is organizational leadership to do to embrace such change without losing complete control of its traditional mandates? Knowledge-sharing-power-future-organizations-replicate-wikipedia-id3028131-size350.jpg Photo credit: Stelian Ion New media technologies have ushered us into a new extended environment in which the ability to share, exchange, collaborate and reach out are rewarded spontaneously by the system itself. Inside traditional organizations the forces of hierarchical control and bottom-up spontaneous sharing have finally come to collide on the main deck. In other words, hierarchical control meets distributed and open self-organizing systems. The tower, meets the cloud. But this needs not be an either / or choice. "It could be a future of and-and-and, where both forms continue to co-exist peacefully." The "tower" of hierarchy control and the "cloud" of open collaboration are the two extremes of a new continuum in which organizations need yet to learn how to move swiftly. Today, There are indeed huge opportunities awaiting for those organizations which have not only the courage to acknowledge these deep transformational changes but which have also the will to embrace and integrate these new trends in their own way of working. Those institutions still resisting these changes are well set on a tragic path of increasing problems, internal tragedies and failures which will become more evident as the two opposing approaches grow further in an open contrast. On the other hand, our culture, outside large organizations has already converted itself to the new way, embracing in most of its aspects, the distributed power of the "cloud".
"All of you have your own hierarchical organizations – because that’s how organizations have always been run. Yet each of you are surrounded by your own clouds: community organizations (both in the real world and online), bulletin boards, blogs, and all of the other Web 2.0 supports for the sharing of connectivity, information, knowledge and power."
If your organization is evaluating how to best tackle such strategic issues and approaches to power control, I suggest you reserve a little extra time to immerse yourself in the fantastic journey that Mark Pesce has created in the following essay on Sharing Power inside Organizations. Reading it and having those in power reflect upon it may open some new doors to transforming organizations to leverage the powerful changes already taking place in their internal ranks rather than succumb tragically to painful internal revolutions which only need a little extra time to fully come into full bloom. Is your institution ready to adapt itself and find its way forward into this emerging approach to open sharing power? If not, here's an inspiring tale:

Sharing Power (Aussie Rules)

by Mark Pesce

Family Affairs

Knowledge-sharing-power-future-organizations-family-affair-id40786801.jpg In the US state of North Carolina, the New York Times reports, an interesting experiment has been in progress since the first of February. The "Birds and Bees Text Line" invites teenagers with any questions relating to sex or the mysteries of dating to SMS their question to a phone number. That number connects these teenagers to an on-duty adult at the Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention Campaign. Within 24 hours, the teenager gets a reply to their text. The questions range from the run-of-the-mill "When is a person not a virgin anymore?" and the unusual "If you have sex underwater do u need a condom?" to the utterly heart-rending – "Hey, I’m preg and don’t know how 2 tell my parents. Can you help?" The Birds and Bees Text Line is a response to the slow rise in the number of teenage pregnancies in North Carolina, which reached its lowest ebb in 2003. Teenagers – who are given state-mandated abstinence-only sex education in school – now have access to another resource, unmediated by teachers or parents, to prevent another generation of teenage pregnancies. Although it’s early days yet, the response to the program has been positive. Teenagers are using the Birds and Bees Text Line. It is precisely because the Birds and Bees Text Line is unmediated by parental control that it has earned the ire of the more conservative elements in North Carolina. Bill Brooks, president of the North Carolina Family Policy Council, a conservative group, complained to the Times about the lack of oversight.
"If I couldn’t control access to this service, I’d turn off the texting service. When it comes to the Internet, parents are advised to put blockers on their computer and keep it in a central place in the home. But kids can have access to this on their cell phones when they’re away from parental influence – and it can’t be controlled."
If I’d stuffed words into a straw man’s mouth, I couldn’t have come up with a better summation of the situation we’re all in right now: young and old, rich and poor, liberal and conservative. There are certain points where it becomes particularly obvious, such as with the Birds and Bees Text Line, but this example simply amplifies our sense of the present as a very strange place, an undiscovered country that we’ve all suddenly been thrust into. Conservatives naturally react conservatively, seeking to preserve what has worked in the past; Bill Brooks speaks for a large cohort of people who feel increasingly lost in this bewildering present.

Replicate The Wikipedia Structure

Knowledge-sharing-power-future-organizations-replicate-wikipedia-id694092.jpg Let us assume, for a moment, that conservatism was in the ascendant (though this is clearly not the case in the United States, one could make a good argument that the Rudd Government is, in many ways, more conservative than its predecessor). Let us presume that Bill Brooks and the people for whom he speaks could have the Birds and Bees Text Line shut down. Would that, then, be the end of it? Would we have stuffed the genie back into the bottle? The answer, unquestionably, is no. Everyone who has used or even heard of the Birds and Bees Text Line would be familiar with what it does and how it works. Once demonstrated, it becomes much easier to reproduce. It would be relatively straightforward to take the same functions performed by the Birds and Bees Text Line and "crowdsource" them, sharing the load across any number of dedicated volunteers who might, through some clever software, automate most of the tasks needed to distribute messages throughout the "cloud" of volunteers. Even if it took a small amount of money to setup and get going, that kind of money would be available from donors who feel that teenage sexual education is a worthwhile thing. In other words, the same sort of engine which powers Wikipedia can be put to work across a number of different "platforms". The power of sharing allows individuals to come together in great "clouds" of activity, and allows them to focus their activity around a single task. It could be an encyclopedia, or it could be providing reliable and judgment-free information about sexuality to teenagers. The form matters not at all: what matters is that it’s happening, all around us, everywhere throughout the world. The cloud, this new thing, this is really what has Bill Brooks scared, because it is, quite literally, "out of control". It arises naturally out of the human condition of "hyperconnection". We are so much better connected than we were even a decade ago, and this connectivity breeds new capabilities. The first of these capabilities are the pooling and sharing of knowledge – or "hyperintelligence". Consider: everyone who reads Wikipedia is potentially as smart as the smartest person who’s written an article in Wikipedia. Wikipedia has effectively banished ignorance born of want of knowledge. The Birds and Bees Text Line is another form of hyperintelligence, connecting adults with knowledge to teenagers in desperate need of that knowledge. Hyperconnectivity also means that we can carefully watch one another, and learn from one another’s behaviors at the speed of light. This new capability – "hypermimesis" – means that new behaviors, such as the Birds and Bees Text Line, can be seen and copied very quickly. Finally, hypermimesis means that that communities of interest can form around particular behaviors, "clouds" of potential. These communities range from the mundane to the arcane, and they are everywhere online. But only recently have they discovered that they can translate their community into doing, putting hyperintelligence to work for the benefit of the community. This is the methodology of the Prevention Campaign. This is the methodology of Wikipedia. This is the methodology of Wikileaks, which seeks to provide a safe place for whistle-blowers who want to share the goods on those who attempt to defraud or censor or suppress. This is the methodology of ANONYMOUS, which seeks to expose Scientology as a ridiculous cult. How many more examples need to be listed before we admit that the rules have changed, that the smooth functioning of power has been terrifically interrupted by these other forces, now powers in their own right?

Affairs of State

Knowledge-sharing-power-future-organizations-affair-state-id31505191.jpg Don’t expect a revolution. We will not see masses of hyperconnected individuals, storming the Winter Palaces of power. This is not a proletarian revolt. It is, instead, rather more subtle and complex. The entire nature of power has changed, as have the burdens of power. Power has always carried with it the "burden of omniscience" – that is, those at the top of the hierarchy have to possess a complete knowledge of everything of importance happening everywhere under their control. Where they lose grasp of that knowledge, that’s the space where coups, palace revolutions and popular revolts take place. This new power that flows from the cloud of hyperconnectivity carries a different burden, the "burden of connection". In order to maintain the cloud, and our presence within it, we are beholden to it. We must maintain each of the social relationships, each of the informational relationships, each of the knowledge relationships and each of the mimetic relationships within the cloud. Without that constant activity, the cloud dissipates, evaporating into nothing at all. This is not a particularly new phenomenon; Dunbar’s Number demonstrates that we are beholden to the "tribe" of our peers, the roughly 150 individuals who can find a place in our heads. In pre-civilization, the cloud was the tribe. Should the members of tribe interrupt the constant reinforcement of their social, informational, knowledge-based and mimetic relationships, the tribe would dissolve and disperse – as happens to a tribe when it grows beyond the confines of Dunbar’s Number. In this hyperconnected era, we can pick and choose which of our human connections deserves reinforcement; the lines of that reinforcement shape the scope of our power. Studies of Japanese teenagers using mobiles and twenty-somethings on Facebook have shown that, most of the time, activity is directed toward a small circle of peers, perhaps six or seven others. This "co-presence" is probably a modern echo of an ancient behavior, presumably related to the familial unit. While we might desire to extend our power and capabilities through our networks of hyperconnections, the cost associated with such investments is very high. Time spent invested in a far-flung cloud is time that lost on networks closer to home. Yet individuals will nonetheless often dedicate themselves to some cause greater than themselves, despite the high price paid, drawn to some higher ideal.

The Example of The Obama Campaign

Knowledge-sharing-power-future-organizations-obama-campaign-62583937_9337d72430.jpg The Obama campaign proved an interesting example of the price of connectivity. During the Democratic primary for the state of New York (which Hilary Clinton was expected to win easily), so many individuals contacted the campaign through its website that the campaign itself quickly became overloaded with the number of connections it was expected to maintain. By election day, the campaign staff in New York had retreated from the web, back to using mobiles. They had detached from the "cloud" connectivity they used the web to foster, instead focusing their connectivity on the older model of the six or seven individuals in co-present connection. The enormous cloud of power which could have been put to work in New York lay dormant, unorganized, talking to itself through the Obama website, but effectively disconnected from the Obama campaign. For each of us, connectivity carries a high price. For every organization which attempts to harness hyperconnectivity, the price is even higher. With very few exceptions, organizations are structured along hierarchical lines. Power flows from bottom to the top. Not only does this create the "burden of omniscience" at the highest levels of the organization, it also fundamentally mismatches the flows of power in the cloud. When the hierarchy comes into contact with an energized cloud, the "discharge" from the cloud to the hierarchy can completely overload the hierarchy. That’s the power of hyperconnectivity. Another example from the Obama campaign demonstrates this power. Project Houdini was touted out by the Obama campaign as a system which would get the grassroots of the campaign to funnel their GOTV results into a centralized database, which could then be used to track down individuals who hadn’t voted, in order to offer them assistance in getting to their local polling station. The campaign grassroots received training in Project Houdini, when through a field test of the software and procedures, then waited for election day. On election day, Project Houdini lasted no more than 15 minutes before it crashed under the incredible number of empowered individuals who attempted to plug data into Project Houdini. Although months in the making, Project Houdini proved that a centralized and hierarchical system for campaign management couldn’t actually cope with the "cloud" of grassroots organizers. In the 21st century we now have two oppositional methods of organization: the hierarchy and the cloud. Each of them carry with them their own costs and their own strengths. Neither has yet proven to be wholly better than the other. One could make an argument that both have their own roles into the future, and that we’ll be spending a lot of time learning which works best in a given situation. What we have already learned is that these organizational types are mostly incompatible: unless very specific steps are taken, the cloud overpowers the hierarchy, or the hierarchy dissipates the cloud. We need to think about the interfaces that can connect one to the other. That’s the area that all organizations – and very specifically, non-profit organizations – will be working through in the coming years. Learning how to harness the power of the cloud will mark the difference between a modest success and overwhelming one. Yet working with the cloud will present organizational challenges of an unprecedented order. There is no way that any hierarchy can work with a cloud without becoming fundamentally changed by the experience.

Affair De Coeur

Knowledge-sharing-power-future-organizations-affair-de-coure-id860289.jpg All organizations are now confronted with two utterly divergent methodologies for organizing their activities: the tower and the cloud.
  • The tower seeks to organize everything in hierarchies, control information flows, and keep the power heading from bottom to top.
  • The cloud isn’t formally organized, pools its information resources, and has no center of power. Despite all of its obvious weaknesses, the cloud can still transform itself into a formidable power, capable of overwhelming the tower. To push the metaphor a little further, the cloud can become a storm.
How does this happen? What is it that turns a cloud into a storm? Jimmy Wales has said that the success of any language-variant version of Wikipedia comes down to the dedicated efforts of five individuals. Once he spies those five individuals hard at work in Pashtun or Khazak or Xhosa, he knows that edition of Wikipedia will become a success. In other words, five people have to take the lead, leading everyone else in the cloud with their dedication, their selflessness, and their openness. This number probably holds true in a cloud of any sort – find five like-minded individuals, and the transformation from cloud to storm will begin. At the end of that transformation there is still no hierarchy. There are, instead, concentric circles of involvement. At the innermost, those five or more incredibly dedicated individuals; then a larger circle of a greater number, who work with that inner five as time and opportunity allow; and so on, outward, at decreasing levels of involvement, until we reach those who simply contribute a word or a grammatical change, and have no real connection with the inner circle, except in commonality of purpose.

The Cloud Model

Knowledge-sharing-power-future-organizations-cloud-id41235631.jpg This is the model for Wikipedia, for Wikileaks, and for ANONYMOUS. This is the cloud model, fully actualized as a storm. At this point the storm can challenge any tower. But the storm doesn’t have things all its own way; to present a challenge to a tower is to invite the full presentation of its own power, which is very rude, very physical, and potentially very deadly. Wikipedians at work on the Farsi version of the encyclopedia face arrest and persecution by Iran’s Revolutionary Guards and religious police. Just a few weeks ago, after the contents of the Australian government’s internet blacklist was posted to Wikileaks, the German government invaded the home of the man who owns the domain name for Wikileaks in Germany. The tower still controls most of the power apparatus in the world, and that power can be used to squeeze any potential competitors. But what happens when you try to squeeze a cloud? Effectively, nothing at all. Wikipedia has no head to decapitate. Jimmy Wales is an effective cheerleader and face for the press, but his presence isn’t strictly necessary. There are over 2000 Wikipedians who handle the day-to-day work. Locking all of them away, while possible, would only encourage further development in the cloud, as other individuals moved to fill their places. Moreover, any attempt to disrupt the cloud only makes the cloud more resilient. This has been demonstrated conclusively from the evolution of "darknets", private file-sharing networks, which grew up as the legal and widely available file-sharing networks, such as Napster, were shut down by the copyright owners. Attacks on the cloud only improve the networks within the cloud, only make the leaders more dedicated, only increase the information and knowledge sharing within the cloud. Trying to disperse a storm only intensifies it. These are not idle speculations; the tower will seek to contain the storm by any means necessary. The 21st century will increasingly look like a series of collisions between towers and storms. Each time the storm emerges triumphant, the tower will become more radical and determined in its efforts to disperse the storm, which will only result in a more energized and intensified storm. This is not a game that the tower can win by fighting. Only by opening up and adjusting itself to the structure of the cloud can the tower find any way forward. What, then, is leadership in the cloud? It is not like leadership in the tower. It is not a position wrought from power, but authority in its other, and more primary meaning, "to be the master of". Authority in the cloud is drawn from dedication, or, to use rather more precise language, love. Love is what holds the cloud together. People are attracted to the cloud because they are in love with the aim of the cloud. The cloud truly is an affair of the heart, and these affairs of the heart will be the engines that drive 21st century business, politics and community. Author and pundit Clay Shirky has stated, "The internet is better at stopping things than starting them". I reckon he’s wrong there: the internet is very good at starting things that stop things. But it is very good at starting things. Making the jump from an amorphous cloud of potentiality to a forceful storm requires the love of just five people. That’s not much to ask. If you can’t get that many people in love with your cause, it may not be worth pursing.

How Organizations Can Embrace The Cloud

Knowledge-sharing-power-future-organizations-embrace-cloud-id6321561.jpg All 21st century organizations need to recognize and adapt to the power of the cloud. It’s either that or face a death of a thousand cuts, the slow ebbing of power away from hierarchically-structured organizations as newer forms of organization supplant them. But it need not be this way. It need not be an either / or choice. It could be a future of and-and-and, where both forms continue to co-exist peacefully. But that will only come to pass if hierarchies recognize the power of the cloud. This means you. All of you have your own hierarchical organizations – because that’s how organizations have always been run. Yet each of you are surrounded by your own clouds: community organizations (both in the real world and online), bulletin boards, blogs, and all of the other Web 2.0 supports for the sharing of connectivity, information, knowledge and power. You are already halfway invested in the cloud, whether or not you realize it. And that’s also true for people you serve, your customers and clients and interest groups. You can’t simply ignore the cloud.

How then should organizations proceed?

1) Do Not Be Scared of The Cloud

It might be some time before you can come to love the cloud, or even trust it, but you must at least move to a place where you are not frightened by a constituency which uses the cloud to assert its own empowerment. Reacting out of fright will only lead to an arms race, a series of escalations where the your hierarchy attempts to contain the cloud, and the cloud – which is faster, smarter and more agile than you can ever hope to be – outwits you, again and again.

2) Like Likes Like

If you can permute your organization so that it looks more like the cloud, you’ll have an easier time working with the cloud. Case in point: because of "message discipline", only a very few people are allowed to speak for an organization. Yet, because of the exponential growth in connectivity and Web 2.0 technologies, everyone in your organization has more opportunities to speak for your organization than ever before. Can you release control over message discipline, and empower your organization to speak for itself, from any point of contact? Yes, this sounds dangerous, and yes, there are some dangers involved, but the cloud wants to be spoken to authentically, and authenticity has many competing voices, not a single monolithic tone.

3) We Are All Involved In a Growth Process

The cloud of last year is not the cloud of next year. The answers that satisfied a year ago are not the same answers that will satisfy a year from now. We are all booting up very quickly into an alternative form of social organization which is only just now spreading its wings and testing its worth. Beginnings are delicate times. The future will be shaped by actions in the present. This means there are enormous opportunities to extend the capabilities of existing organizations, simply by harnessing them to the changes underway. It also means that tragedies await those who fight the tide of times too single-mindedly. Our culture has already rounded the corner, and made the transition to the cloud. It remains to be seen which of our institutions and organizations can adapt themselves, and find their way forward into sharing power.

Originally written by Mark Pesce for The Human Network, and first published on May 10th 2009 as "Sharing Power (Aussie Rules)".

About the author Mark_pesce_thumbnail.jpg Mark Pesce is a Sydney based consultant, writer and lecturer. His consultancy, FutureSt, advises media companies in publishing and broadcasting on strategies for forward movement in an ever more fragmented and converged media marketplace.

Photo credits: Family Affairs - TatyanaGI Replicate The Wikipedia Structure - Andres Rodriguez Affairs of State - Irina Tischenko The Example of The Obama Campaign - Peter Howe Affair De Coeur - Lars Christensen The Cloud Model - Nikolai Sorokin How Organizations Can Embrace The Cloud - Kyle Smith
Online Newspapers Best Content Publishing Strategy: Free Or Paid?
What is best online publishing strategy for a struggling newspaper? Is it better to let online news content go out for free or to charge people to access it? The eternal Internet question is back and with a powerful sponsor behind it: Rupert Murdoch. content_publishing_strategy_free_or_paid_id17589971_size485_c.jpg Photo credit: ktsdesign If you haven't caught this story yet, It is only a few weeks back that all major international newspapers reported of Rupert Murdoch public statements about the days of the free internet business model being over. While speaking on a conference call in which his own News Corporation reported a 47 percent slide in quarterly profits, Murdoch specifically said that "the current free access business model favored by most content providers was flawed." (Source: CNN) "We are now in the midst of an epochal debate over the value of content and it is clear to many newspapers that the current model is malfunctioning," the News Corp. Chairman and CEO said. Rupert ­Murdoch described the present online news commercial approach a ­"malfunctioning" business model which needs some rapid fixing. And that sparked a new wave of discussions and articles challenging again the eternal question: should online news content be free or should it be charged for? Even a recent US Senate hearing on the "Future of Journalism" made it clear that there are quite a few newspaper companies who would like to go back to charging for their content (while lobbying for tax breaks at the same time). But is charging for news content really the solution to newspapers crisis? If you look beyond the appearances and official statements, the future of online news may actually be quite different from it would appear by just browsing through these story headlines. As a matter of fact, I think that the very question we are asking is not the right one. It is not whether online news content should be free or paid, but rather which type of news content should benefit the most from being free and which one should drive enthusiastic paid subscriptions without one interfering with the other. In this video interview, Alan Murray, Executive Editor at the Wall Street Journal, reveals quite a different story and vision from the one we have been hearing over the news. Murray reveals a more balanced strategy in which both free and paid content can play a strategically important role in which the two approaches complement each other rather than being opponents of two opposing extremes. Here's Alan Murray insightful video interview alongside a full text transcription. If you are wondering whether you should charge or let your news content be free, here some really valuable advice:

Alan Murray of The Wall Street Journal On Charging For Content

Duration: 4' 31'' by Alan Murray
Full English Text Transcription

Inside or Outside The Pay Wall

content_publishing_strategy_free_vs_paid_content_id39836891.jpg What’s happened in the last year and a half or two years is that we've discovered this is not a binary issue. It’s not pay wall / no pay wall. We’ve put more and more of our content outside of the pay wall. You can get all our political coverage, all our opinion coverage, all our arts and leisure coverage free, available to anybody. A lot of big news stories, even business news stories, the coverage is available free, because we know that if we don’t put it out there you’ll just go to somebody else. If it’s a big news story, if we report a takeover and... we could hold that behind the pay wall. But if we do, BusinessWeek or someone else will simply write a story saying “The Wall Street Journal is reporting x,” and they’ll get all the traffic. Why would we do that? So if it’s that kind of a big, broad-interest news story, we’ll put it outside the pay wall and go ahead and take the traffic ourselves, thank you very much.

The Wall Street Journal and The Google News Experiment

content_publishing_strategy_wsj_google_news_experiment.jpg The Google News arrangement was an experiment. We thought, let’s let people who are looking for a story come in and read one story, any one story. Seems to have worked pretty well. When people go to Google News, they’re not, by and large, people who have a relationship with The Wall Street Journal. They’re just looking for the best story on a subject. If we happen to have that story, we let them read it. But if they like it enough that they want to have a relationship with us, if they care about our business and financial coverage, eventually they’ll have to subscribe. In a sense, we’re having our cake and eating it too, by making those clear distinctions between what’s going to be most broadly popular, what’s most likely to attract traffic on the wider web, but keeping in mind what the core value proposition is that we offer to subscribers who come to us for business and financial news they can’t get anywhere else.

Narrow Your Interest

content_publishing_strategy_narrow_interest_id40844541.jpg The key is not to take your most popular stuff and put it behind a pay wall. That’s the been the mistake that some people have made in the past: "This is the story that most people want to read; therefore, that’s the one we’re gonna make them pay for." That’s not the right answer. The broad, popular stuff is the stuff you want out in the free world because that drives traffic, that builds up your traffic, and you can, of course, serve advertising to that audience. I think what you have to think about is sort of narrower groups of interest where the interest might be deeper and more intense and therefore might make people willing to pay for it. I had this conversation with one newspaper editor where I said: "Look, what’s your equivalent of our business readers - the group of people who really need to read you because there’s something they desperately care about?" And one of those editors said to me: "It’s really local sports". It’s the high school football game or the high school basketball game. Not necessarily of interest to all the paper’s readers, but to the people who want to read it. They really want to read it because maybe their kids are involved. Maybe they’re willing to pay for that. Or maybe there’s a photography service that’s connected to that where you can download pictures of your kids or of the game. But only if you’re a subscriber. That’s just one example, but I think that’s the kind of thing.

People Will Pay For Value

content_publishing_strategy_pay_value_id670632_b.jpg The truth of the matter is there are tons of people out there paying large amounts of money, billions of dollars, to buy information every day. There were a couple of guys in Texas who started the ultimate news service on the oil business with oil rig counts and all that. They sell it. They’re driving around in Mercedes. Why didn’t The Houston Chronicle do that? Why did that have to be some outsider? The question is to find the information that has an enormous value to not necessarily a big group of people. Maybe it’s a small group of people, but enough value that they’re willing to pay for it. I think those opportunities are out there for lots of newspapers. We’re working on a premium initiative to launch a series of more, as you say, niche or narrower information services that we can sell at a premium to smaller groups of subscribers on subjects that they care most about. Energy might be an example. Obviously a lot of our readers are deeply interested in financial subjects. Perhaps some sort of a news service for chief financial officers. There are a lot of ideas that are on the table. We’ve started prioritizing them, got a few that will probably come out first. But I’m not going to break that news on your video.

Alan Murray's Highlights

  • The best content publishing model is a mix of paid and free content.
  • The content you don't give out for free will be published elsewhere and you will lose traffic.
  • Do not charge your audience for the most popular content you have on your site.
  • Target your paid content to highly-focused niches.

Original video of Alan Murray republished with permission of Nieman Journalism Lab. Video transcription prepared by Daniele Bazzano and first published on June 2nd, 2009 as "Online Newspapers Best Content Publishing Strategy: Free Or Paid?"

About the author Alan-Murray-thumbnail.jpg Alan Murray is online executive editor of The Wall Street Journal, and author of the "Business" column, which runs on page 2 every Wednesday. He is also a regular contributor to CNBC, and author of the book “Revolt in the Boardroom: The New Rules of Power in Corporate America”. Mr. Murray has management responsibility for the Journal’s multimedia efforts, including its relationship with CNBC television, the Wall Street Journal books business, the paper’s events business, and a variety of online ventures.

Photo credits: Free vs. Paid Content - adempercem Narrow Your Interest - 3dfoto People Will Pay For Value - Giskard
Online Marketing: How To Win Your Customer Trust
How do you win your online customer trust, in a way that makes you feel good while satisfying your customer needs and expectations? Is it a matter of how loud you scream, of how easy it is to find it on major search engines or of how many people testify to your greatness? Probably none of these will do, but the answer is right in front of your nose, if you just look at how your physical world suppliers have done and continue to do it even when they have no online presence whatsoever. How_to_win_customer_trust_size400_b.jpg Photo credit: bonsaigian To get customer trust you have to give out something valuable without asking anything in return. A few weeks back, I involved a group of my passionate POP subscribers to collaboratively lay out with me a concept map illustrating all of the possible ways to gain unconditional customer trust in an online environment. What came out of it is a rich idea map, full of many useful marketing tips and customer service suggestions that can help most any online publisher or entrepreneur. Here below are both the original version of that map, as it presented itself after a few days of spontaneous collaborative crowd-sourced inputs, as well as a new refined and edited version of the same which I have prepared later to synthesize and distill the key recommendations received. Find here 18 different strategic suggestions on how to win your online customer trust, they key factor needed to successfully sell, promote or market anything on the Internet.
Click the image to access the new edited mindmap or go to the old unedited mindmap

How To Win Your Customer Trust


Always Deliver More Than Expected

How_to_win_customer_trust_deliver_more_id290490.jpg Provide extra value. For some this may mean to "give in abundance". For others it just means giving REAL value to your customers, beyond what is the "standard" expectation. This can be done in many ways:
  • by providing more than the customer expects,
  • by throwing in additional bonuses,
  • by offering free support,
  • by extending service and in many other possible ways.
It's the "go the extra mile" philosophy.

Give Out As a Gift Something of Great Value

How_to_win_customer_trust_give_out_valuable_id20808231.jpg Give away something so valuable that speaks miles for your products and your desire to satisfy your customer needs beyond expectations.

Offer a Tryout

How_to_win_customer_trust_offer_tryout_id755716.jpg Always give opportunities to try your product / service. Not allowing your potential customers to see, or try out directly your product is an indication to them that you have something to hide.

Make Your Customer Feel Special

How_to_win_customer_trust_special_customer_id7210481jpg.jpg Do something special for your customer. Give her a present, a gift, something good is always effective. Take the time out to do an informal text chat to help out with something problematic or just share something nice you have just discovered yourself.

Cheer Your Customer Up As You Do With Your Dog

How_to_win_customer_trust_cheer_customer_like_dog_id15477831.jpg Cheer your (potential) customer up and make a party each time you meet, just like people do with their dogs when they get back home - it works!


Listen Closely

How_to_win_customer_trust_listen_id35784831.jpg Listen to real, hidden goals. Don't force your solutions on your customer. Listen in between his phrases to what he is really looking for to obtain and find a way to get him there. Restate what the person is telling you to be certain you understand his perspective. Listen for emotional messages, not just logic. No stereotypes.

Allow Sharing of Customer Stories and Experiences

How_to_win_customer_trust_sharing_id33400911.jpg Potential customers have great stories and ideas to share. Create venues for them to do so and utilize their best stories to let your know customers learn what to expect from you.

Let Criticism Flow In

How_to_win_customer_trust_criticism_id26236691.jpg Welcome criticism and leverage it to make improvements. Reach out to customers to have them suggest new ideas and solutions to improve your product. Utilize an integrated, contextual feedback service like or

Don't Try To Sell, Focus On Listening and Helping Out

How_to_win_customer_trust_listen_help_out.jpg People don't like when someone tries to openly sell them something, unless they are the ones asking for it. That's why your goal, when trying to win your customer trust, should be one of first listening and trying to understand what the real problem is. They try to help out sincerely, without the pressing desire to sell something at all costs. Do it because you care about helping people in your niche marketplace. If they get help, they start to trust you, and when they trust you, they are going to ask you where they can buy what you actually sell.


Never Advise One Thing and Then Do The Opposite

How_to_win_customer_trust_advise_do_opposite_id858322.jpg Walk your talk. Recommend what you honestly would for yourself. Honesty is always the best policy.

Always Begin With The Intention to Serve and Give

How_to_win_customer_trust_serve_id21655011.jpg That should be your starting point. Not the one of selling. Help out is your first mission.

Lead by Example

How_to_win_customer_trust_lead_by_example_id370992.jpg Be a model. Apply your advice to your own blog, business and network. Be coherent with what you preach.

Lead With Humbleness

How_to_win_customer_trust_lead_from_beneath_id6710811.jpg Be a servant leader, asking: "How can I help you vs. me succeed?" Share, give support, inspire, encourage, guide.

Know Your Competition Like Your Pockets

How_to_win_customer_trust_know_competition_id305728.jpg Customers love to have as a supplier a passionate expert. Someone who knows every product in the market, and the differences, strengths and weaknesses of each one. Competitors are also an enormous resource for inspiration. They often have cool ideas before you that can inspire you, they make mistakes just like you do and it is good to know and learn from them yourself. The more you you ignore your competition the more your customer will ignore you.


Show HOW You Do What You Do

How_to_win_customer_trust_show_id39358701.jpg Customers and prospective ones love to see how you actually create / edit / produce the product you offer. It allows them to see how much passion, skill and expertise you put into it.

When You Cannot Sell Your Products Suggest

How_to_win_customer_trust_suggest_id40725011.jpg If you don't have what your potential customer is looking for, don't send him away. Suggest an alternative solution if it involves sending your customer to the competition. Show that you care about finding a solution for them, not getting their money.

Publish Yourself

How_to_win_customer_trust_publish_id15332241.jpg Have a place where you publish regularly your sources, your insights (Twitter, blog, Facebook group / page, Tumblr, ClaimID, etc...) Freely share new communication tools vs hogging info to make yourself look better. This will communicate your attitude towards knowledge sharing and collaboration to everybody else, and your potential customer will see it as a proof of your engagement in the area. Even more-so, of your willingness to help them succeed! Share not only your flow of data (search results, Digg, bookmarks, links...) = information, but also your network of contacts and valuable / trusted sources = people.

Know When To Walk Away

How_to_win_customer_trust_go_away_id9832052jpg.jpg If you don't have what the customer needs but your competitor does, let your customer know. He will be thankful if he will happen to come around again, as he now knows that you are there just to sell him something. You have gained some trust.

Originally prepared by Robin Good and Daniele Bazzano for MasterNewMedia, and first published on June 1st, 2009 as "Online Marketing: How To Win Your Customer Trust".

Photo credits: Cheer Your Customer Up As You Do With Your Dog - Lisa F. Young Don't Try To Sell, Focus On Listening and Helping Out - DualCall Make Your Customer Feel Special - James Steidl Know What Should Be Free and What Should Not Be Free - adempercem Always Deliver More Than Expected - Tomasz Trojanowski Always Begin With The Intention to Serve and Give - Helder Almeida Let Criticism Flow In - Mikhail Kovalev Know When to Walk Away - Luis Francisco Cordero Give Out As a Gift Something of Great Value - Valeriya Potapova Lead From Beneath As a Servant - noahgolan Lead by Example - Tomasz Trojanowski Never Advise One Thing and Then Do The Opposite! - pmtavares Publish Yourself - Konstantinos Kokkinis Offer a Tryout - Ljupco Smokovski Show HOW You Do What You Do - nyul Know Your Competition Like Your Pockets - mipan When You Cannot Sell Your Products, Suggest - Jean-No?l Tercier Listen Closely - Stefan Andronache Allow Sharing of Customer Stories and Experiences - sgursozlu
Media Literacy: Making Sense Of New Technologies And Media by George Siemens - May 30 09
Media literacy is an expanded information and communication skill that is responsive to the changing nature of information in our society. It addresses the skills students need to be taught in school, the competencies citizens must have as we consume information in our homes and living rooms, and the abilities workers must have as we move toward the 21st century and the challenges of a global economy. (Source: Telemedium)
Media_literacy_digest_george_siemens_tag_cloud_connectivis_msize485.jpg Photo credit: Tag Crowd Inside this Media Literacy Digest:
  • Will Higher Education Be The Next Bubble To Burst? - According to the National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education, over the past 25 years, average college tuition and fees have risen by 440 percent
  • Rapid Internet Justice - We are re-creating our physical societal rules for the online environment. The ideals that should serve as a foundation are not yet defined…
  • Technology For Teaching and Learning Transformation - George Siemens conducted with Kathleen Matheos a two-day workshop on Technology for teaching and learning transformation
  • Challenges Faced by African Universities In Technology Integration - ...thoughts / comments from a workshop and discussion session with leaders in education and ICT from African universities
  • African Elections - Technology, reflected in sites like African Elections, provides individuals with access to needed information and conversations. Controlling this information is increasingly difficult.
This weekly digest takes you to places, facts and resources that help you make greater sense of the increasing relevance that new technologies and media are having on the way you learn. Here all the details:

eLearning Resources and News

learning, networks, knowledge, technology, trends by George Siemens

Will Higher Education Be The Next Bubble To Burst?

Media_literacy_digest_georgesiemens_higher_education_bubble_id17838111.jpg Will Higher Education Be the Next Bubble to Burst? asks:
According to the National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education, over the past 25 years, average college tuition and fees have risen by 440 percent - more than four times the rate of inflation and almost twice the rate of medical care. Patrick M. Callan, the center’s president, has warned that low-income students will find college unaffordable.
Laying aside the obvious point that education is already unaffordable for much of the work, this article explores challenges education faces in light of recent “bubble bursts”. I’m interested in the new value point for higher education. The system currently serves three dominant roles:
  • content / research,
  • teaching / learning,
  • and accreditation.
Why don’t we split them up? We could serve each function better in this model. And less expensively. A large system that tries to do too much is incapable of adapting rapidly to changing external conditions.

Rapid Internet Justice

Media_literacy_digest_georgesiemens_rapid_justice_id39869001.jpg An interesting thread about Rapid Internet Justice. Short version: someone uses online forums to target people to steal auto parts. The community serves as detective and solves the case. In this instance, it appears the right person is identified, but I’ve also seen online communities exhibit “mob mentality”. This story has a strong positive message - the ability of a community to do the detective work police were not able to do (or interested in doing). On the negative side: the checks (or is it cheques? :)) and balances that form established societies are lacking. We are re-creating our physical societal rules for the online environment. The ideals that should serve as a foundation are not yet defined…

Technology For Teaching and Learning Transformation

If you’ve been following my twitter feeds (and personal tag for travelling - #whine09), you’re aware that I’m in Senegal (minus luggage). I conducted - with Kathleen Matheos - a two-day workshop on Technology for teaching and learning transformation. I’ve posted the slides from day 2 of the workshop.

Challenges Faced by African Universities In Technology Integration

Media_literacy_digest_georgesiemens_africa_technology.gif I’ve captured a few thoughts / comments from a workshop and discussion session with leaders in education and ICT from African universities: Challenges faced by African Universities in technology integration. I’m continuing my quest to use more images. But, as the post reveals, visuals truly are not my strength :).

African Elections

Media_literacy_digest_georgesiemens_african_elections.gif Ideologies are embedded into technology. Ideologies, of course, are about power, control, and ways of looking at the world. As such, it’s fair to say that technology is about power - who can create? Who has access? Today, in a conversation with an African colleague - Ben Akoh - I was introduced to the African Elections site. The site tracks and shares election news / conversation in various social media (Twitter, SMS, blogs, etc.) and traditional media sites. I recall watching an election for the premier of Manitoba in early 2000’s. I didn’t have access to a television, but watched a postage stamp-sized jittery newscast. It was terrible by today’s online video standards. But it gave me what I wanted most: timely access to information that I found important. Technology, reflected in sites like African Elections, provides individuals with access to needed information and conversations. Controlling this information is increasingly difficult. A daily newspaper is much easier to shut down than a distributed conversation. Yes, I know countries can block sites and restrict traffic. But democracy is far more secure when subject to the input of many commentators than to a select few mainstream media sources.

Originally written by George Siemens for elearnspace and first published on May 30th 2009 in his newsletter eLearning Resources and News.

About the author George-Siemens.jpg To learn more about George Siemens and to access extensive information and resources on elearning check out Explore also George Siemens connectivism site for resources on the changing nature of learning and check out his new book "Knowing Knowledge".

Photo credits: Will Higher Education Be The Next Bubble To Burst? - Paul Fleet Rapid Internet Justice - Tom Schmucker Challenges Faced by African Universities In Technology Integration - Pop!Tech
Social Media Marketing Metrics: The Official IAB Definitions and Guidelines
Social media has changed the paradigm of how people consume online media. But how do you measure social media effectiveness, when social media becomes an instrument for marketing, PR and promotion? Are there advertising metrics for social media marketing and promotion? ad-metrics-social-media-blogs-widget-iab-description-guidelines-size485.jpg Photo credit: Jozsef Szasz-Fabian edited by Daniele Bazzano Before the raise of social media, advertisers had the idea that they could only communicate to their potential customers in a broadcast-style approach: top-down, one-way, and using top traditional mass media channels. Today, with the rapid growth seen in the social media space in recent years, many publishers and vendors are offering supplemental performance metrics to their clients as additional ways of gauging ad effectiveness. Social media speak to a new way of understanding how individual users are interacting with branded content via online publishers, social networks, blogs, and applications. The greatest difference between that old world of communicating to customers and the new one spawned by social media, is that the latter has added a conversational, participatory elements into the communication strategy, allowing individuals to receive information but also to take part in the actual creation and distribution of content. This is why today, when looking at online content and communication strategies, one should appraise value not just from the primary distribution of branded content but also from the additional interactions that result as users share, participate with, create conversations and pass the word about commercial products and services that greatly benefit from such extra organic exposure and reach. In the end, the key additional value that social media provide is one of engaging users and opening up to dialogue and conversation with them. Let's see how to measure it:

Social Media Ad Metrics Definitions

ad-metrics-social-media-blogs-widget-iab-description-guidelines-socialmedia3_id6263281.jpg by Internet Advertising Bureau Digital Video Committee
This document specifies standard definitions for social media metrics. With the rapid growth seen in the social media space in recent years, many publishers and vendors are offering supplemental performance metrics to their clients as additional ways of gauging ad effectiveness. This document defines these supplemental metrics in more detail in an effort to stimulate growth by making the reporting of metrics for agencies and advertisers across multiple media partners more consistent. The IAB hopes that all players in the social media space will coalesce around these metrics to encourage growth through consistency. Social media speaks to a new way of understanding how individual users are interacting with branded content via online publishers, social networks, blogs, and applications. Before the proliferation of social media, the primary way for users to receive advertiser information was one - way. Social media has changed the paradigm of how people consume online media. The most profound difference is that social media has added a participatory element where an individual not only receives information but has the ability to take part in the creation and distribution of content. Furthermore, social media tools have enabled a dialogue and discovery around this content. It is the combination of these unique and appealing aspects that defines the true value of social media. Value is derived not only from the primary distribution of branded content but also the additional interactions that result as users share, participate with, and propagate advertising content. In the end, social media adds another layer of value through its ability to engage users and create additional reach. The current social media landscape can be broken into three distinct categories:
  • Social media sites
  • Blogs
  • Widgets and social media applications
This document first defines each of the categories, and then defines the supplemental metrics specific to each.

Category Overview

Social Media Sites

ad-metrics-social-media-blogs-widget-iab-description-guidelines-socialmedia.jpg Social media sites are characterized by the inherent functionality that facilitates the sharing of information between users within a defined network. The nature of social media allows for the initiation of conversation by either party, a key differentiator from established broadcast channels. The size of the network is primarily a reflection of the active participation of the audience, as consumer-generated media represents that vast majority of all content. For consumers the true value of a network is measured by the frequency of engagement of the participants. For marketers, endorsement by consumers in the form of friending / following / subscribing validates their efforts and activates a viral distribution of their brand across channels.


ad-metrics-social-media-blogs-widget-iab-description-guidelines-blog-services.jpg A blog, short for weblog, is a type of web site used by individuals, groups or business entities to publish opinions and commentary on various topics. Content can be focused on very niche topics or can cover current events, popular themes, or even take the shape of a personal diary. Blog posts are listed in reverse chronological order and also allow for comments by readers. Posts can be in the form of text, image, video, or rich - media formats. In addition, blogging platforms allow for rapid syndication of content to interested audiences using opt-in protocols such as really simple syndication (RSS). For advertisers, blogs offer another interactive channel to reach engaged and enthusiastic consumers. Additionally, because of their conversational nature and affinity with readers, blogs can provide media planners with additional insight about consumer behavior and intent. With blogs, it is possible to map psychographic elements of engagement to traditional consumer demographic profiles. Ad campaigns can target a single blog or multiple blogs by category using traditional interactive reach and audience metrics. However, additional targeting value can also be derived by mapping campaigns to blogs engaged in common "conversations" through the form of shared links, referencing each - other’s content. The social connection of publisher - to - publisher relationships through these content links aggregates engaged consumers into a desirable and topic - engaged audience. The ability to aggregate audiences by topic is dynamic, following the dialogue consumers are having. Following these "conversations", an advertiser or brand evangelist is able to tailor creative to incorporate the messages, language, and tone audiences are using at the current moment and effectively speak directly to them, rather than building creative which is solely based on statistical reach and audience metrics.

Widgets and Social Media Applications

ad-metrics-social-media-blogs-widget-iab-description-guidelines-widgets-example.jpg Web applications are software programs designed to work on one or more platforms. The term "application" is most commonly used to describe a platform-specific program, such as a Facebook or MySpace application, which can tap into the sharing functionality or data available on a particular social network. This data includes such things as a user’s friends or location. Applications work only on the platform for which they are designed. The key difference between a widget and an application is portability. Widgets are applications that can function on any site that accepts external content, including social networks, blog platforms, start pages (i.e. MyYahoo) desktop platforms or personal web pages. Widgets can be built to function differently on each platform, delivering varying degrees of integration with a social network, from accessing and using social data to not interacting with the platform at all. Social applications encourage connectivity, self-expression or collaboration, often through games, productivity tools or interactive content. There are two primary models for application advertising:
  1. Sponsorship, where an advertiser may collaborate with developers or intermediary parties to promote products/services directly on the application via IAB standard banner ads or integrated product or logo placement within an existing popular application.
  2. Dedicated brand application, where the advertiser can create or work with a developer to create a unique application that is built specifically to deliver on a brand objective.

Common categories include but are not limited to:
  • Alerts
  • Business
  • Chat
  • Classified
  • Competitions
  • Dating
  • Education
  • Events
  • Fashion
  • File Sharing
  • Food and Drink
  • Games
  • Fun
  • Messaging
  • Mobile
  • Money
  • Music
  • Pets
  • Photos
  • Politics
  • Quizzes
  • Sports
  • Travel
  • Utility
  • Video

Reporting Metrics

General Social Media Metrics

ad-metrics-social-media-blogs-widget-iab-description-guidelines-id28952011-socialmedia3.jpg It is important to note that web publishers that are not social networks themselves also host and measure social activity. Comments are the most common "social" activity on more traditional web sites as well as blogs. With the "opening up" of social networks and other platforms like Facebook Connect, MySpaceID, Twitter, and the availability of protocols such as OpenID and oAuth, to name just a few, web publishers are now able to build an even richer site experience by incorporating social features. These features include accessing user and friend data to customize the user’s experience and publishing user activity back to newsfeeds on social networks. As such, the social metrics in this document are applicable to more traditional web publishers as well as what are currently considered dedicated "social media" sites.
  • Unique Visitors
    • Unique individual or browser which has accessed a site or application and has been served unique content and / or ads such as e-mail, newsletters, interstitials or pop-under ads. Unique visitors can be identified by user registration, cookies, or third-party measurement like ComScore or Nielsen. Reported unique visitors should filter out bots. See for the audience reach measurement guidelines.

  • Cost per unique visitor
    • Total cost of the placement or application, divided by the number of unique visitors.

  • Page Views
    • When the page is actually seen by the user. Some platforms, like Facebook cache preview images for applications, which can mean that page views are not counted until a user clicks through to an application canvas page.

  • Visits (specific to UGC / Social Media)
    • A single continuous set of activity attributable to a cookied browser or user (if registration-based or a panel participant) resulting in one or more pulled text and / or graphics downloads from a site.

  • Return Visits
    • The average number of times a user returns to a site or application over a specific time period.

  • Interaction Rate
    • The proportion of users who interact with an ad or application. Some will be involuntary depending on where the ad or application is placed on screen, so it is highly dependent on placement.

  • Time Spent (section, microsite, community)
    • The amount of elapsed time from the initiation of a visit to the last user activity associated with that visit. Time spent should represent the activity of a single cookied browser or user for a single access session to the web site application or other property. Most publishers consider a session continuous if and only if not broken by more than 30 minutes of inactivity.

  • Video installs
    • Number of Video players that have been placed by a user onto their page. Also called embed, grab or post. A video player is a type of widget.

  • Relevant actions taken (custom to widget or application creative execution) and cost per relevant action. Action examples:
    • Contest / Sweeps Entries
    • Coupons downloaded / redeemed
    • Games played
    • Videos viewed
    • Uploads (e.g. images, videos)
    • Poll votes
    • Messages sent (e.g. Bulletins, Updates, Emails, Alerts)
    • Invites sent
    • Newsfeed items posted
    • Comments posted
    • Friends reached
    • Topics / forums created
    • Number of group members or fans
    • Reposts ("Shares")

Blog Metrics

ad-metrics-social-media-blogs-widget-iab-description-guidelines-blogmetrics.jpg The social media metrics presented below are specific to blogs. However, as the web and other sites become more social, these metrics have application value across other properties. Keep in mind these metrics are complementary to traditional user-advertisement interaction measures (i.e. impressions, clicks, and click-through-rate) and help drive further insight into media planning and campaign optimization. There are two concepts that surface when targeting media plans to blogs: conversations and conversation phrases.
  • A conversation is a collection of authors / sites and their audience linked by relevant content.
  • A conversation phrase is a combination of keywords and keyword phrases used to associate an author / site, its content and audiences to a conversation.

Conversation Size

ad-metrics-social-media-blogs-widget-iab-description-guidelines-conversation-id4303821.jpg The following metrics will help advertisers understand the breadth and depth of discussion happening in the blogosphere about specific topics and in which consumers are engaged. These conversation metrics will guide media planners in their campaign planning and execution.
  • Number of Conversation Relevant Sites

  • Number of Conversation Relevant Links
    • The count of links to (in-links) and from (out-links) content that contains conversation phrases from the client’s RFP or IO across all sites identified for and / or supporting the campaign plan.

  • Conversation Reach
    • The number of unique visitors (monthly) across sites in the conversation.

Site Relevance

ad-metrics-social-media-blogs-widget-iab-description-guidelines-site-relevance.jpg The following metric can help an advertiser understand relevancy of the site and its content to the conversation phrases to which the media plan is targeted. By looking at the relevancy of the site’s content compared to other sites, a media planner can better understand the impact of an advertisement on that site.
  • Conversation Density of Conversation Relevant Posts
    • The percentage for which conversation phrases from the client’s RFP or IO match post content on the sites identified in the campaign media plan. Unlike SEO keyword density, this percentage is expressed across all posts on the site and not for a single page.

Author Credibility

My Popularity (by The following metrics help an advertiser understand the credibility of the authors participating in the conversation. By looking at the length of time an author has been posting on a topic, the relevancy of the author’s posts among his / her peers and the frequency of the author’s posts, a media planner can better understand the impact of an advertisement on that author’s site.
  • Number of Conversation Relevant Posts on the Site
    • The number of posts on the site with content containing conversation phrases from the client’s RFP or IO.

  • Number of Links to Conversation Relevant Posts on the Site
    • The count of links to (in-links) and from (out-links) content containing conversation phrases from the client’s RFP or IO for the site identified for and / or included in the campaign media plan.

  • Earliest Post Date for Conversation Relevant Posts
    • The earliest post date for content containing conversation phrases from the client’s RFP or IO for the site identified for and / or included in the campaign media plan.

  • Latest Post Date for Conversation Relevant Posts
    • The most recent post date for content containing conversation phrases from the client’s RFP or IO for the site identified for and / or included in the campaign media plan.

  • Duration Between Earliest and Last Post Date for Conversation Relevant Posts
    • The time between a site’s first posting and latest post for content containing conversation phrases from the client’s RFP or IO for the site identified for and / or included in the campaign media plan.

Content Freshness and Relevance

ad-metrics-social-media-blogs-widget-iab-description-guidelines-fresh-content-id859360.jpg The following metrics help an advertiser understand the freshness and relevance of the content on which their advertisement will appear. These metrics are important because media planners can better understand the impact of an advertisement across sites and their content within a campaign.
  • Earliest Post Date for Conversation Relevant Posts
    • The earliest post date for content containing conversation phrases from the client’s RFP or IO for the site identified for and / or included in the campaign media plan.

  • Latest Post Date for Conversation Relevant Posts
    • The most recent post date for content containing conversation phrases from the client’s RFP or IO for the site identified for and / or included in the campaign media plan.

  • Mean-time Between Posts
    • The average (mean) time between posts for content containing conversation phrases from the client’s RFP or IO for the site identified for and / or included in the campaign media plan.

Widget and Social Media Application Metrics

ad-metrics-social-media-blogs-widget-iab-description-guidelines-socialmedia-application.jpg The following metrics apply specifically to widgets and social media applications. These supplementary metrics offer advertisers a greater insight into ROI for all widget and social media application campaigns.
  • Installs - Applications
    • Total installations of application.

  • Active Users
    • Total users interacting with application over a specific time frame, usually day/week/month. Many applications have rapid growth but lose activity over time.

  • Audience Profile
    • User demographics from self reported profile information.

  • Unique User Reach
    • Percentage of users who have installed application among the total social media audience (or calculated as active application users per audience).

  • Growth
    • Average number of users within a specific time frame.

  • Influence
    • Average number of friends among users who have installed application.

  • Application / widget installs - User
    • Number of application or widgets installed by a user onto their profile page or other area. Also called embed, grab or post.

  • Active users / widgets in the wild
    • Number of people regularly using an application at a given point in time.
    • Number of widgets on a user page at a given point in time.

  • Longevity / Lifecycle
    • Average period of time for which an application or widget remains installed by a user.

Originally written by the International Advertising Bureau Digital Video Committee for IAB and first published on May 1st, 2009 as "Social Media Ad Metrics Definitions".

About the author iab_thumbnail.jpg The Digital Video Committee of the IAB is comprised of 145 member companies actively engaged in the creation and execution of digital video advertising. One of the goals of the committee is to implement a comprehensive set of guidelines, measurement, and creative options for interactive video advertising.

Photo credits: Social Media Ad Metrics Definitions - Erik de Graaf General Social Media Metrics - Nikolai Sorokin Conversation Size - Jozsef Szasz-Fabian Content Freshness and Relevance - Jovan Nikolic
Citizen Journalism: The Key Trend Shaping Online News Media - Introductory Guide With Videos
Citizen Journalism has put democracy back in people's hands. An army of individuals with mobile phones, portable cameras, and blogs is rapidly replacing traditional media as a reliable and wide-ranging source of information. In this milestone report, Chris Willis and Shayne Bowman were among the first to try to explain what citizen journalism really is and why this bottom-up distribution approach could be the future of news. newspaper-of-the-future-citizen-journalism-435.jpg Photo credit: Paulino Figueirido Unfortunately, popular belief has it that news coming from official, mainstream channels is superior in quality and reliability than news reported by a blogger or someone with a shaky camcorder. Traditional media keep being preached as the source of truth, but what they lack is exactly the essence of truth: validation. How do you establish what is true form what is false? Mainstream media have a one-way dialogue with their audience: there's no way to check back what was told or written. Participatory journalism, on the contrary, finds its very strength in the continuous, ongoing validation process operated by a large community. You can easily share your opinion, agree / disagree with what is being said by taking advantage of new technologies and the web. This is why it is also called Participatory Journalism. Participatory Journalism is:
The act of a citizen, or group of citizens, playing an active role in the process of collecting, reporting, analyzing and disseminating news and information. The intent of this participation is to provide independent, reliable, accurate, wide-ranging and relevant information that a democracy requires.
If you want to understand better the spirit behind citizen journalism, and why it might be a long step forward in the way you both produce and consume information online, this classic report is a must read. Here all the details:

We Media: Introduction To Participatory Journalism

future_of_news_citizen_journalism_we_media_cover.jpg by Chris Willis and Shayne Bowman
In his 1995 book Being Digital, Nicholas Negroponte predicted that in the future, online news would give readers the ability to choose only the topics and sources that interested them. "The Daily Me," as Negroponte called it, worried many guardians of traditional journalism. To actively allow a reader to narrow the scope of coverage, observed some, could undermine the "philosophical underpinnings of traditional media." The vision that seemed cutting edge and worrisome eight years ago seems to have come partly true. The Wall Street Journal,, The Washington Post and CNN, to name a few, all offer readers some degree of personalization on the front pages of their sites. Millions of Yahoo members customize their MyYahoo personal news portal with the same news wire reports that editors use in daily newspapers across the globe. Google's news page uses a computer algorithm to select headlines from thousands of news sites - creating a global newsstand, of sorts. And media outlets from Fox News and the Drudge Report to individual weblogs offer the kind of opinionated slant to the news that Negroponte envisioned. But is the future of online news simply a continued extrapolation of this trend - news a la carte? Does greater personalization necessarily mean greater understanding for a democracy? In the view of futurist and author Watts Wacker, the question is not about greater personalization but about greater perspectives. According to Wacker, the world is moving faster than people can keep up with it. As a result, there are fewer common cultural references that can be agreed upon. Ideas, styles, products and mores accelerate their way from the fringe to the mainstream with increasing speed. To combat the confusion, consumers are seeking more perspectives, Wacker says. They research an automobile for purchase by spending time online and reading both professional and amateur reviews alike. But what are they doing when it comes to news? And what will they be doing in the future? To understand that, Wacker advises, you must seek out people from the future today and study them. How do you find people from the future? Locate early adopters - people who are using and appropriating technology in new ways. In South Korea, it looks like one future of online news has arrived a few years early. is the most influential online news site in that country, attracting an estimated 2 million readers a day. What's unusual about is that readers not only can pick and choose the news they want to read - they also write it. With the help of more than 26,000 registered citizen journalists, this collaborative online newspaper has emerged as a direct challenge to established media outlets in just four years. Unlike its competitors, OhmyNews has embraced the speed, responsiveness and community-oriented nature of the Web. Now, it appears, the vision of "The Daily Me" is being replaced by the idea of "The Daily We."

Behind The Citizen Journalism Revolution

Chriss Hogg and and David Silverberg of analyze the citizen journalism phenomenon and its most famous examples. Duration: 7' 23''

The Rise of We Media

future_of_news_citizen_journalism_we_media_rise_id20980071.jpg The venerable profession of journalism finds itself at a rare moment in history where, for the first time, its hegemony as gatekeeper of the news is threatened by not just new technology and competitors but, potentially, by the audience it serves. Armed with easy-to-use web publishing tools, always-on connections and increasingly powerful mobile devices, the online audience has the means to become an active participant in the creation and dissemination of news and information. And it's doing just that on the Internet:
  • According to the Pew Internet Project, the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, generated the most traffic to traditional news sites in the history of the Web. Many large news sites buckled under the immense demand and people turned to e-mail, weblogs and forums "as conduits for information, commentary, and action related to 9/11 events." The response on the Internet gave rise to a new proliferation of "do-it-yourself journalism." Everything from eyewitness accounts and photo galleries to commentary and personal storytelling emerged to help people collectively grasp the confusion, anger and loss felt in the wake of the tragedy.

  • During the first few days of the war in Iraq, Pew found that 17 percent of online Americans used the Internet as their principal source of information about the war, a level more than five times greater than those who got their news online immediately after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks (3 percent). The report also noted that "weblogs (were) gaining a following among a small number of Internet users (4 percent)."

  • Immediately after the Columbia shuttle disaster, news and government organizations, in particular The Dallas Morning News and NASA, called upon the public to submit eyewitness accounts and photographs that might lead to clues to the cause of the spacecraft's disintegration.

  •'s The Note covers 2004 political candidates and gives each an individual weblog to comment back on what was reported. In addition, presidential candidate Howard Dean guest-blogged on Larry Lessig's weblog for a week in July 2003. (A future president of the United States might be chosen not only on his or her merits, charisma, experience or voting record but on the basis of how well he or she blogs.)

  • College coaches, players and sports media outlets keep constant vigil on numerous fan forum sites, which have been credited with everything from breaking and making news to rumor-mongering. "You can't go anywhere or do anything and expect not to be seen, because everyone is a reporter now," says Steve Patterson, who operates, a web site devoted to University of Georgia sports.

  • Before the Iraq war, the BBC knew it couldn't possibly deploy enough photojournalists to cover the millions of people worldwide who marched in anti-war demonstrations. Reaching out to its audience, the BBC News asked readers to send in images taken with digital cameras and cell phones with built-in cameras, and it published the best ones on its web site.

Citizen Journalism - What Is It

Robin Good has edited a short video published by Cambridge Community Television explaining what citizen journalism really is about - Full video here Duration: 9' 49''

Weblogs Come of Age

future_of_news_citizen_journalism_we_media_blogs_id19350191.jpg The Internet, as a medium for news, is maturing. With every major news event, online media evolve. And while news sites have become more responsive and better able to handle the growing demands of readers and viewers, online communities and personal news and information sites are participating in an increasingly diverse and important role that, until recently, has operated without significant notice from mainstream media. While there are many ways that the audience is now participating in the journalistic process, which we will address in this report, weblogs have received the most attention from mainstream media in the past year. Weblogs, or blogs as they are commonly known, are the most active and surprising form of this participation. These personal publishing systems have given rise to a phenomenon that shows the markings of a revolution - giving anyone with the right talent and energy the ability to be heard far and wide on the Web. Weblogs are frequently updated online journals, with reverse-chronological entries and numerous links, that provide up-to-the-minute takes on the writer's life, the news, or on a specific subject of interest. Often riddled with opinionated commentary, they can be personally revealing (such as a college student's ruminations on dorm life) or straightforward and fairly objective (Romenesko). The growth of weblogs has been largely fueled by greater access to bandwidth and low-cost, often free software. These simple easy-to-use tools have enabled new kinds of collaboration unrestricted by time or geography. The result is an advance of new social patterns and means for self-expression. Blog-like communities like have allowed a multitude of voices to participate while managing a social order and providing a useful filter on discussion. Weblogs have expanded their influence by attracting larger circles of readers while at the same time appealing to more targeted audiences.
"Blogs are in some ways a new form of journalism, open to anyone who can establish and maintain a Web site, and they have exploded in the past year,"
writes Walter Mossberg, technology columnist for the Wall Street Journal.
"The good thing about them is that they introduce fresh voices into the national discourse on various topics, and help build communities of interest through their collections of links. For instance, bloggers are credited with helping to get the mainstream news media interested in the racially insensitive remarks by Sen. Trent Lott (R.-Miss.) that led to his resignation as Senate majority leader."
Mossberg's description of weblogs as a new kind of journalism might trouble established, traditionally trained journalists. But it is a journalism of a different sort, one not tightly confined by the traditions and standards adhered to by the traditional profession. These acts of citizen engaging in journalism are not just limited to weblogs. They can be found in newsgroups, forums, chat rooms, collaborative publishing systems and peer-to-peer applications like instant messaging. As new forms of participation have emerged through new technologies, many have struggled to name them. As a default, the name is usually borrowed from the enabling technology (i.e., weblogging, forums and usenets).

Dan Gillmor and Matt Buckland On Citizen Journalism

Dan Gillmor, author of We The Media, and web publisher Matt Buckland are interviewed about the nature of citizen journalism and the value of this approach opposed to the traditional journalism model. Duration: 2' 54''

Participatory Journalism Starts The Conversation

future_of_news_citizen_journalism_we_media_conversation_id39545661.jpg The term we use - participatory journalism - is meant to describe the content and the intent of online communication that often occurs in collaborative and social media. Here's the working definition that we have adopted:
Participatory journalism: The act of a citizen, or group of citizens, playing an active role in the process of collecting, reporting, analyzing and disseminating news and information. The intent of this participation is to provide independent, reliable, accurate, wide-ranging and relevant information that a democracy requires.
Participatory journalism is a bottom-up, emergent phenomenon in which there is little or no editorial oversight or formal journalistic workflow dictating the decisions of a staff. Instead, it is the result of many simultaneous, distributed conversations that either blossom or quickly atrophy in the Web's social network. While the explosion of weblogs is a recent phenomenon, the idea of tapping into your audience for new perspectives or turning readers into reporters or commentators is not. Many news organizations have a long history of tapping into their communities and experimenting with turning readers into reporters or commentators. In the early 1990s, newspapers experimented with the idea of civic journalism, which sought participation from readers and communities in the form of focus groups, polls and reaction to daily news stories. Most of these early projects centered around election coverage. Later, newspapers sought to involve communities in major deliberations on public problems such as race, development and crime. According to a report from the Pew Center for Civic Journalism, at least 20 percent of the 1,500 daily U.S. newspapers practiced some form of civic journalism between 1994 and 2001. Nearly all said it had a positive effect on the community. Civic journalism has a somewhat controversial reputation, and not everyone is convinced of its benefits. While civic journalism actively tries to encourage participation, the news organization maintains a high degree of control by setting the agenda, choosing the participants and moderating the conversation. Some feel that civic journalism is often too broad, focusing on large issues such as crime and politics, and not highly responsive to the day-to-day needs of the audience. Yet, the seed from which civic journalism grows is dialogue and conversation. Similarly, a defining characteristic of participatory journalism is conversation. However, there is no central news organization controlling the exchange of information. Conversation is the mechanism that turns the tables on the traditional roles of journalism and creates a dynamic, egalitarian give-and-take ethic. The fluidity of this approach puts more emphasis on the publishing of information rather than the filtering. Conversations happen in the community for all to see. In contrast, traditional news organizations are set up to filter information before they publish it. It might be collaborative among the editors and reporters, but the debates are not open to public scrutiny or involvement. future_of_news_citizen_journalism_we_media_compare.gif John Seely Brown, chief scientist of Xerox Corp., further elaborates on participatory journalism in the book The Elements of Journalism:
"In an era when anyone can be a reporter or commentator on the Web, 'you move to a two-way journalism.' The journalist becomes a 'forum leader,' or a mediator rather than simply a teacher or lecturer. The audience becomes not consumers, but 'pro-sumers,' a hybrid of consumer and producer."
Seely Brown's description suggests a symbiotic relationship, which we are already seeing. But participatory journalism does not show evidence of needing a classically trained "journalist" to be the mediator or facilitator. Plenty of weblogs, forums and online communities appear to function effectively without one. This raises some important questions:
  • If participatory journalism has risen without the direct help of trained journalists or news industry initiatives, what role will mainstream media play?
  • And are mainstream media willing to relinquish some control and actively collaborate with their audiences?
  • Or will an informed and empowered consumer begin to frame the news agenda from the grassroots?
  • And, will journalism's values endure?

Citizen Journalism and You: Partners In Press Freedom

A 1950's educational video parody explaining what citizen journalism is about, in simple words. By UWA Comm2203 Project for Group 11. Duration: 2' 53''

Journalism At a Crossroads

future_of_news_citizen_journalism_we_media_crossroads_id487952.jpg In his 1996 book News Values, former Chicago Tribune publisher Jack Fuller summed it up well: "The new interactive medium both threatens the status quo and promises an exciting new way of learning about the world." This deftly describes both camps of opinion concerning participation by the audience in journalism. It's not just the Internet that threatens the status quo of the news business. In their 2001 book The Elements of Journalism, Bill Kovach and Tom Rosenstiel make a compelling argument that the news business is undergoing "a momentous transition." According to the authors, each time there has been a period of significant, social, economic and technological change, a transformation in news occurred. This happened in the 1830s-40s with the advent of the telegraph; the 1880s with a drop in paper prices and a wave of immigration; the 1920s with radio and the rise of gossip and celebrity culture; the 1950s at the onset of the Cold War and television. The arrival of cable, followed by the Internet and mobile technologies, has brought the latest upheaval in news. And this time, the change in news may be even more dramatic. Kovach and Rosenstiel explain,
"For the first time in our history, the news increasingly is produced by companies outside journalism, and this new economic organization is important. We are facing the possibility that independent news will be replaced by self-interested commercialism posing as news."
Kovach and Rosenstiel argue that new technology, along with globalization and the conglomeration of media, is causing a shift away from journalism that is connected to citizen building and one that supports a healthy democracy. Clearly, journalism is in the process of redefining itself, adjusting to the disruptive forces surrounding it. So it's no surprise that discussions about forms of participatory journalism, such as weblogs, are frequently consumed by defensive debates about what is journalism and who can legitimately call themselves a journalist. While debating what makes for good journalism is worthwhile, and is clearly needed, it prevents the discussion from advancing to any analysis about the greater good that can be gained from audience participation in news. Furthermore, the debate often exacerbates the differences primarily in processes, overlooking obvious similarities. If we take a closer look at the basic tasks and values of traditional journalism, the differences become less striking. From a task perspective, journalism is seen as "the profession of gathering, editing, and publishing news reports and related articles for newspapers, magazines, television, or radio." In terms of journalism's key values, there is much debate. After extensive interviews with hundreds of U.S. journalists, Kovach and Rosenstiel say that terms such as fairness, balance and objectivity are too vague to rise to essential elements of this profession. From their research, they distilled this value: "The primary purpose of journalism is to provide citizens with the information they need to be free and self-governing." In the case of the aforementioned South Korean news site, we see that traditional journalism's basic tasks and values are central to its ethos. The difference essentially boils down to a redistribution of control – a democratization of media. "With OhmyNews, we wanted to say goodbye to 20th-century journalism where people only saw things through the eyes of the mainstream, conservative media," said Oh Yeon-ho, editor and founder of South Korea's "The main concept is that every citizen can be a reporter," Yeon-ho says. "A reporter is the one who has the news and who is trying to inform others."

Citizen Journ vs Traditional Journ

A short pardoy in stop-motion of the Mac vs PC advertisement series about why citizen journalism is dir?fferent from the traditional journalist. Duration 3' 21''

The New Evolving Media Ecosystem

future_of_news_citizen_journalism_we_media_media_ecosystem_id1684341.jpg The most obvious difference between participatory journalism and traditional journalism is the different structure and organization that produce them.
  • Traditional media are created by hierarchical organizations that are built for commerce. Their business models are broadcast and advertising focused. They value rigorous editorial workflow, profitability and integrity.
  • Participatory journalism is created by networked communities that value conversation, collaboration and egalitarianism over profitability.
future_of_news_citizen_journalism_we_media_ecosystem.gif Clay Shirky, an adjunct professor at New York University who has consulted on the social and economic effects of Internet technologies, sees the difference this way:
"The order of things in broadcast is 'filter, then publish.' The order in communities is 'publish, then filter.' If you go to a dinner party, you don't submit your potential comments to the hosts, so that they can tell you which ones are good enough to air before the group, but this is how broadcast works every day. Writers submit their stories in advance, to be edited or rejected before the public ever sees them. Participants in a community, by contrast, say what they have to say, and the good is sorted from the mediocre after the fact."
Many traditional journalists are dismissive of participatory journalism, particularly webloggers, characterizing them as self-interested or unskilled amateurs. Conversely, many webloggers look upon mainstream media as an arrogant, exclusive club that puts its own version of self-interest and economic survival above the societal responsibility of a free press. According to Shirky, what the mainstream media fail to understand is that despite a participant's lack of skill or journalistic training, the Internet itself acts as editing mechanism, with the difference that "editorial judgment is applied at the edges … after the fact, not in advance." In The Elements of Journalism, Kovach and Rosenstiel take a similar view:
"This kind of high-tech interaction is a journalism that resembles conversation again, much like the original journalism occurring in the publick houses and coffeehouses four hundred years ago. Seen in this light, journalism's function is not fundamentally changed by the digital age. The techniques may be different, but the underlying principles are the same."
What is emerging is a new media ecosystem, where online communities discuss and extend the stories created by mainstream media. These communities also produce participatory journalism, grassroots reporting, annotative reporting, commentary and fact-checking, which the mainstream media feed upon, developing them as a pool of tips, sources and story ideas. Scott Rosenberg, managing editor of, explains,
"Weblogs expand the media universe. They are a media life-form that is native to the Web, and they add something new to our mix, something valuable, something that couldn't have existed before the Web. It should be obvious that weblogs aren't competing with the work of the professional journalism establishment, but rather complementing it. If the pros are criticized as being cautious, impersonal, corporate and herdlike, the bloggers are the opposite in, well, almost every respect: They're reckless, confessional, funky - and herdlike."
Dan Gillmor, one of weblogging's most vocal defenders and a technology journalist and weblogger for the San Jose Mercury News, describes this ecosystem as "journalism's next wave." In a post to his weblog on March 27, 2002, Gillmor described the principles that define the current "we media" movement:
  • My readers know more than I do.
  • That is not a threat, but rather an opportunity.
  • We can use this together to create something between a seminar and a conversation, educating all of us.
  • Interactivity and communications technology - in the form of email, weblogs, discussion boards, websites and more - make it happen.

How To Be a Citizen Journalist

Retr?-style short film about what it takes to become a citizen journalist. Duration: 3' 16''

Originally written by Chris Willis and Shayne Bowman, and first published on September 21st 2003 as "We Media: Introduction To Participatory Journalism"

About the authors chriswillis_shaynebowman_thumbnail.jpg Chris Willis and Shayne Bowman work at Hypergene, a media consulting and design firm that develops, designs and produces communication and commerce projects for clients in business, media and technology.

Photo credits: The Rise of We Media - IreneK Weblogs Come of Age - vacuum3d Participatory Journalism Starts The Conversation - Luis Fernandez Journalism At a Crossroads - jarcem The New Evolving Media Ecosystem - aixm
Virtual Presenter Soapbox: A Live Stage For Everyone To Present Great Ideas
In the age of sharing, collaboration and real-time communications, wouldn't it be fantastic if anyone had the opportunity to present her ideas live to a real, sizable public audience? Why isn't it there yet a virtual presenter soapbox open to everyone? present-share-great-ideas-live-stage-audience-id388527.jpg Photo credit: Darko Novakovic After the likes of Flickr (for images), YouTube (for videos), Slideshare (for slide presentations) why isn't there a public, open service that provides a live podium and a matching audience for those with great ideas to share? Wouldn't it be fantastic if you could just go to such an online service and be provided with an easy-to-use toolset of communication, collaboration, presentation and promotion tools to make your voice be heard? Why not support and leverage the growing crowd of live presenters and the valuable engagement, the attention, the following and the unique content that they could generate? Here all the details:

Virtual Presenter Soapbox: A Live Stage For Everyone To Present Great Ideas

by Robin Good

Sharing The Trend

present-share-great-ideas-share-trend-id720182.jpg If you look around, there is a growing number of professionals delivering online courses and webinars, as well as new online destinations devoted to provide know-how and expertise to both private or public audiences. Look at the emerging social learning networks and live learning marketplaces that have started to spring up. These are all instances of an increasing move toward further expanding our communication venues and of a spontaneous, growing desire from individuals to share and present their ideas to others. If you are already an expert, a successful corporate VP or a published book author, maybe you can get a few conference organizers to invite you to speak. But outside of this restrictive elite, there is little or no space for you to go out and present your ideas in front of an audience worth of that name. Yes, you may go to a barcamp or to a user-group organized event and share your PowerPoint and get a good kick out of it, but your reach remains usually limited to those attending and to the location of where you deliver it. Wouldn't instead be wonderful if anyone had an online free resource to go to deliver and store live public presentations? While there are plenty of web conferencing services out there that one can sign up to, most tend to be internal, private communication tools, not venues through which "extend" and further distribute one own's message. Think of a YouTube of public live presentations were presenters and audiences are matched to their topics of interest. You have an idea to present about a new collaboration approach? Put the event info up and promote it to your networks and contacts. Then meet some basic requirements (must have presented before, to at least x number of people, has met a minimum quota of registrants, etc.) and then the system allows you to be matched to the platform extended audience by letting you expose your event info to those who have expressed interests in the same topics you cover. Log in on the date and time of your event and deliver your idea live to as many people you want while using the delivery approach of your choice. You don't have to worry about anything as the event is automatically recorded alongside its user-generated content artifacts (chats, whiteboards, images, etc.).

Finding The Nuggets

present-share-great-ideas-nuggets-gems-id375982.jpg Yes, I know what you are thinking. You have seen the likes of YouTube and Flickr and you are afraid that this could be another gate to a flood of low-quality, useless, hard-to-browse stuff. But, Wikipedia and, and more recently FriendFeed, have found effective ways to keep spam and irrelevant stuff away while allowing most valuable content to be surfacing to the top or become readily accessible. They have all used their audiences to do the filtering. By leveraging user engagement, not just for contributions but also for moderation and filtering, these UGC platforms have gradually learned how to clean their own junk, and to tap into their great stuff. Great content could be surfaced by leveraging multiple metrics and indicators: followers, views, actual time on page, syndication, "likes", re-tagging, etc. By leveraging the convergence of social media metrics with classic web traffic and audience indicators it would probably be easier to let quality self-surface to the top.

Business Factors

present-share-great-ideas-business-factors-id29085161.jpg What about the business side of things? How could this idea be made economically sustainable from a business standpoint? Well, this is a tough one, my dear, but I have tried to put myself in the situation. Here my starting points if I were to make my idea into a sustainable reality:
  • Adopt a freemium approach. Allow for all basic live presentation and delivery services to be provided for free alongside paid premium services providing additional features to produce, deliver and distribute content more effectively. Consider automatic presentation transcriptions, translations, ability to widgetize and redistribute, commercial distribution via high-quality video downloads or DVDs, merchandising of your brand, co-partnering to promote your physical paid events and workshops, and so on.

  • Extract and create valuable content from user contributions. Identify, remix, aggregate, edit and assemble high-quality content collections on specific themes or topics and turn them into high-priced niche learning solutions that could be commercialized to target corporate customers.

  • Partner with a "presentation and communication skills" university to complement the natural need for live presenters and communicators to refine and improve their key professional skills.

  • Create an intelligent system to support successful presenters into matching their talent and know-how with relevant brands or events looking for individuals with their traits and get a share of the pie.

  • Adopt a social media marketing strategy. If such an idea sharing and presentation platform was to adopt the same social network marketing strategy that has made Twitter, Facebook, MySpace and other social media community building venues so popular,it could rapidly build engaged, swarming audiences interested in specific topics.

  • Utilize CC licensing for all content to be presented live allowing easy redistribution and encouraging editing, remixing and mashing up of it.

  • Facilitate reach and distribution by providing a shareable, re-embeddable live events viewing platform to be integrated in any blog or web site.

  • Centralize and manage all of the meta-information about such live events, creating value added services from it, while allowing maximum decentralization of the delivery of the live events.

Dream or Opportunity?

present-share-great-ideas-dream-opportunity-id39019831.jpg The new web is all about speaking from human to human in a true voice, without the false hypocrisy of corporate communications and traditional broadcast-style advertising communications. What you care about today is the people, the individuals and the ideas behind the companies and products you like to use. But how many opportunities and venues are available for you to present your ideas and vision publicly and in front of a live, real audience? My live public venue idea is both an exercise in virtual entrepreneuring as well as a vision for something that I would want but that's not there, yet. It reflects my desires, passions and ideals and paints a scenario I think would benefit all of parties involved. Individuals with ideas would have a new open venue to share them with those interested in it. Better yet, such venue should enable them to more easily be matched with those potentially interested in listening. Those seeking inspiration, models, guidance or a passionate follow-up conversation would find through this open platform a treasure trove of resources to attend, contribute or participate into. Communities would spontaneously emerge around topics of interest and would generate further demand and consumption of additional live events. Infrastructure provider would benefit from formidable exposure and from opportunity to engage specific communities with useful premium features and other alternative monetization approaches.
It's a wild idea, I know, but that's what I would really like to see: more people getting a chance to share their thoughts and ideas in front of a public audience, and a web conferencing company clever enough to recognize what appears to me as a unique marketing and commercial opportunity.

Originally written by Robin Good for MasterNewMedia, and first published on May 25th 2009 as "Virtual Presenter Soapbox: A Live Stage For Everyone To Present Great Ideas"

Photo credits: Sharing The Trend - Didier Kobi Finding The Nuggets - Ryan Pike Business Factors - Alex Kalina Dream or Opportunity? - Endhals
Media Literacy: Making Sense Of New Technologies And Media by George Siemens - May 23 09
Media literacy builds an understanding of the role of media in society as well as essential skills of inquiry and self-expression necessary for citizens of a democracy. (Source: Center for Media Literacy)
Media_literacy_digest_georgesiemens_by_Kristina_Hoeppner_2854937389_size485.jpg Photo credit: Kristina D.C. Hoeppner Inside this Media Literacy Digest:
  • CCK08: Socialization As Information Object - overview of the CCk08
  • The Social Data Revolution(s) - Our generation suffers more under abundant information than previous generations.
  • Videos of Recent Presentations - Videos of two recent presentations
  • Public Engagement. Public Empowerment - Open tools will produce open conversations and open thinking
  • Social Media In The Enterprise - 35+ examples of corporate social media presents a brief overview of how various organizations are beginning to use social media
  • Technology Trends - Techcrunch reviews conference discussions of technologies trends for 2009
  • Course to Dis/Course Recordings - From Courses to Dis/Course recordings are now available
  • News and Content - The news industry continues to suffer under the impact of freely available content
If you're looking for a more critical approach to making sense of how new technologies and media are affecting the way we learn, study and work, this weekly digest may help you recognize the forest from the trees. Here all the details:

eLearning Resources and News

learning, networks, knowledge, technology, trends by George Siemens

CCK08: Socialization As Information Object

Media_literacy_digest_georgesiemens_cck08_socialization_id9992192.jpg I finally got around to capturing a few thoughts on CCK08. I’ve posted an overview of the course (as well as an earlier rudimentary attempt from 2002) on my connectivism blog: Socialization as information objects. Now, to get ready for CCK09…

The Social Data Revolution(s)

Media_literacy_digest_georgesiemens_social_data_revolution_id11037231.jpg The Social Data Revolution(s):
In 2009, more data will be generated by individuals than in the entire history of mankind through 2008… The second data revolution brought about a new dimension to data creation: users started to actively contribute explicit data such as information about themselves, their friends, or about the items they purchased. These data went far beyond the click-and-search data that characterized the first decade of the web.
The discussion of social data and expectations of consumers / end users resonates with my experiences. I no longer seek information for information itself. Whether looking for a hotel or purchasing a product online, I seek social information such as ratings, comments, or event communities. However, I doubt the opening throw-away statement of more data being generated in 2009 than in all previous history. Journal of the History of Ideas (access likely restricted) has an issue on on early information explosion that challenges assumptions that our generation suffers more under abundant information than previous generations.

Videos of Recent Presentations

Media_literacy_digest_george_siemens_video_presentation_id39768421.jpg Videos of two presentations I recently delivered in Iowa and New York:

Public Engagement. Public Empowerment

Media_literacy_digest_georgesiemens_public_empowerment_id755289f.jpg Talk of technology quickly turns into talk of power. Who has it (power)? By what means did they attain it? By what means do they hold it? What are they attempting to do with it? Technology embodies ideologies, and the choices made by its designers influence what its users will be able to do (or not do). Learning management systems (LMS) - in contrast with personal learning environments / webs / networks - enable certain approaches to learning while discouraging others. An LMS also supports and fosters a certain relationship between the educator and the learner. The ability to open or close a discussion forum or to grant and deny course access is fundamentally imbued with power. It is little surprise, therefore, that governance and public engagement are influenced by technology. Open tools will produce open conversations and open thinking. Public Engagement. Public Empowerment addresses the relationship between tools / technology, ideology / governance, and power:
Direct engagement in politics has been the purview of an educated and powerful few until recent times. Indeed, the role of the politician, and the executive that serves him or her has largely been to tell us, the sheep-like masses, what is good for us and to expect us to blithely follow along. We change our minds only in the face of corruption and excess, and exercise our democratic rights to switch to a lesser evil at times of election. But oh, my! How the world has changed. …In a hyperconnected world, our ability to readopt these denser forms of association, made sustainable by tools such as social networks, become reality. We become the true global village, as much the neighbor to the bloke next door as some geographically remote but by association, close, neighbor with whom we share an interest.
The article occasionally moves into the Land of Happy Hype, but the central message of increased engagement in civic discourse enabled by participatory technologies is important to share.

Social Media In The Enterprise

Media_literacy_digest_georgesiemens_social_media_enterprise_id25466451.jpg I have a few weeks of travel coming up (first to Senegal for workshops as part of a Soros Foundation grant & elearning Africa, back to Winnipeg for a library conference, and then to Italy for the Enterprise 2.0 forum). In preparation for the enterprise 2.0 event, I’ve been reviewing resources on how organizations are using social media. 35+ examples of corporate social media presents a (very) brief overview of how various organizations are beginning to use social media. Details are limited on the effectiveness of the projects, but it’s starting to feel like the mid-90’s when companies were proclaiming “we now have a web site!”. Underneath the hype of unrealistic expectations and attention grabbing headlines, the web developed into an indispensable part of our interaction with information. The hype of “we’re doing social media!” will likely also yield to foundational changes in how we interact with each other.

Technology Trends

Media_literacy_digest_georgesiemens_technology_trends_id143473.jpg Techcrunch reviews conference discussions of technologies trends for 2009. Trends presented are fairly obvious (which is to be expected when the analysis cycle is as short as a year): next generation technology users, mobile devices, digital displays, etc. The focus on unstructured data (they suggest within five years, 80% of enterprise data will be unstructured) and distributed webs (social networks) are important for educators to consider.

Course to Dis/Course Recordings

Media_literacy_digest_georgesiemens_recordings_id658693.jpg Last week, Martin Weller and I hosted an online conference to discuss the future of courses: From Courses to Dis/Course. The recordings are now available. At this stage, they are long, unedited Elluminate recordings. Which means you have to advance the recording until you get to the presentation you would like. As much as I love Elluminate, the inability to get individual recordings is a challenge. If I suddenly inherit time, I’ll chunk the recordings with Camtasia. Or if someone else is eager to do so… :)

News and Content

Media_literacy_digest_georgesiemens_news_content_id10860281.jpg Education’s sibling - the news industry - continues to suffer under the impact of freely available content and increased end user control permitted by the web. But it is not a field that is going away quickly or quietly. Consider the suggestion that the internet is killing news:
But, content is not necessarily news. News is the verifiable facts that trained, responsible journalists… often spend hundreds of hours tracking down and sifting through and verifying to get to the truth. Real reporting is time-consuming and expensive. It requires a level of investment that many traditional print and broadcast news organizations can no longer afford in the face of the tsunami of free content that is the web.
The real problem is not that we have free content (as the article goes on to suggest, while classifying instances of effective amateur journalism as rare). The real issue is that free content contrasts with the existing infrastructure of newspapers and journalism. Quality “control”, vetting, and rigorous research can (and will) be a part of open content. The models will be created over time. The newspaper industry did not emerge wholly as we know it today. It evolved in response to needs of readers and members of society. Those who lament the decline of newspapers overlook the likelihood of a similar prospect for world of open content.

Originally written by George Siemens for elearnspace and first published on May 21st 2009 in his newsletter eLearning Resources and News.

About the author George-Siemens.jpg To learn more about George Siemens and to access extensive information and resources on elearning check out Explore also George Siemens connectivism site for resources on the changing nature of learning and check out his new book "Knowing Knowledge".

Photo credits: CCK08: Socialization As Information Object - ndul The Social Data Revolution(s) - ndul Videos of Recent Presentations - Antonio Balaguer Soler Public Engagement. Public Empowerment - derocz Social Media In The Enterprise - grki Technology Trends - Dawn Hudson Course to Dis/Course Recordings - picpics News and Content - lunchschen
Corporate Blogging: Fortune 500 Indicates Trends In Blog Usage and Adoption
Though most people would think differently, blogs, social media, RSS, video and podcasting are gradually establishing themselves as new critical components in the development strategy of many large companies in the American corporate landscape. corporate_blogging_fortune500_trends_id8100042_size485.jpg Photo credit: Robert Mizerek These companies look at the adoption of social media technologies as a mean to improve their communications approach, to build internal knowledge, to improve marketing and sales as well as to guarantee long term sustainability and growth. And these need not be just technology related companies. Many such organizations are Fortune 500 companies, who according to the report I present here today, have started to take up social media, a bit slowly, but very seriously. Authored by Nora Barnes and Eric Mattson, this report originally entitled "The Fortune 500 and Blogging: Slow and Steady and Farther Along Than Expected" examines the 2008 Fortune 500 list in an attempt to quantify the adoption of social media across diverse companies and sectors. Previous reports analyzing blogs and social media adoption across other types of organizations have utilized the Inc. 500, US colleges and universities and the Fortune Magazine’s list of the 200 largest charities. Given that the Fortune 500 stand as a model for business success and for where corporate America may be moving next, the results emerging from this report provide some interesting insight into what is changing when the world of executives and corporate budgets meets the one of blogs, RSS, Twitter and social media in general. If you want to know what American Fortune 500 companies are doing with blogs and social media technologies you will find some valuable facts and information in this report. Here all the details:

The Fortune 500 and Blogging: Slow and Steady and Farther Along Than Expected

corporate_blogging_fortune500_trends_slow_steady_id6962391.jpg Each year Fortune Magazine compiles a list of America’s largest corporations. The list includes publicly and privately held companies for which revenues are publicly available. The Fortune 500 is a definitive list of the country's largest (by revenue) and most influential companies. A company's fall in rank on the list could indicate or reflect problems for the company or its industry, and a move up the list generally signals good news. The Fortune 500 is often viewed as a list of America’s most admired companies. This study examined the 2008 Fortune 500 list in an attempt to quantify the adoption of social media by identifying those with public-facing blogs. Similar work has been done with the Inc. 500, US colleges and universities and the Fortune Magazine’s list of the 200 largest charities. As social media becomes more integral to the business function, we should see evidence of it in the use of blogs, podcasts, Twitter or other tools. Given that the Fortune 500 stand as a model for business success, it is interesting to examine their involvement in the social media arena.


corporate_blogging_fortune500_trends_methodology_id143614.jpg For purposes of this research, the following definition was used to locate 2008 Fortune 500 companies with blogs. A company was counted as having a blog if they had a public-facing corporate blog from the primary corporation with posts in the past 12 months. Due to the complexity of corporate legal structures in this group and no clear methodology on how subsidiaries have been located or analyzed by others, the research presented here focuses on the primary / listed corporation. In addition, it is worth noting that there is some evidence there is usage of social media such as blogs inside of large companies like the F500. This research did not look at that subject but instead focused on public-facing blogs as a barometer of usage. All companies were analyzed using multiple steps.
  • First, working from the 2008 Fortune 500 list, all corporate home pages were examined for links to, or mention of, corporate blogs.
  • If none were found, a search on the company’s site was conducted using the key word “blog”. Any links resulting from that search were followed and evaluated using the established criteria.
  • If no blogs were located on the home page or through a site search, other search engines were used. Both Google and Technorati were employed to check for corporate blogs using key words that included the primary / listed company name and the word “blog”. This proved to be an effective method since additional blogs were located.
All 500 companies on the list were examined using this process. The data was collected in February and March 2008 at the University of MA Dartmouth Center for Marketing Research.


1. Changes In The Fortune 500 (2007-2008)

corporate_blogging_fortune500_trends_changes_id39356901.jpg Thirty-one companies dropped off the Fortune 500 list in 2008. Of those, two had blogs (Avaya and Lucent Technologies). Among the new 31 companies to the list, only one has a blog (Symantec). It is important to note that while the turnover on the list is about 6%, the impact of one less company blogging is negligible.

2. Blogs In The 2008 Fortune 500

corporate_blogging_fortune500_trends_blogs_2008.jpg Eighty-one (16%) of the primary corporations listed on the 2008 Fortune 500 have a public-facing corporate blog with a post in the past 12 months. These early adopters include three of the top five corporations (Wal-Mart, Chevron and General Motors). The two remaining in the top 5, Exxon / Mobil and Conoco Philips do not have public-facing blogs at this time. This is the first study to systematically examine the entire 2008 Fortune 500 list. Based on available information to date, the result is a higher percentage of Fortune 500 bloggers than suspected. (Figures estimating Fortune 500 blogs commonly range from 8% - 12%)

3. Blogs by Industry

corporate_blogging_fortune500_trends_blogs_by_industry_id46821.jpg The 81 companies with blogs come from a cross section of industries. A partial list is presented below showing those industries with the greatest presence in the blogosphere. Blogging differed by industry type with Computer Software, peripherals and office equipment companies having the most blogs (8). Companies in this category include Xerox, Dell, Microsoft, Oracle and EMC. The Telecommunications industry represented by companies like Verizon, Sprint and Virgin Media had 5 of the blogs studied. Food related firms like McDonald’s, Tyson, Whole Foods, General Mills and Safeway also had 5 blogs. Many industries had 4 blogs. These, with some examples, include: Commercial Banks (Bank of America, JP Morgan Chase), Insurance (Progressive, NY Life), Internet Services (Google, Amazon), Semi Conductors (Intel, Texas Instruments), Specialty Retail (Foot Locker, Best Buy and Motor Vehicles (Ford and General Motors). It is interesting to note that in the General Merchandise category there are two retailers on the list, Wal-Mart the #1 Fortune 500 company and Nordstrom, #299. Wal-Mart has a blog. Nordstrom does not.

4. Blogs by Rank

corporate_blogging_fortune500_trends_blogs_by_rank.jpg Rank appears to influence the adoption of blogging by the 2008 Fortune 500. Of the top 100 companies on the list, 38% (31 companies) have a corporate blog. Of the group listed 101 - 200, 25% (20 companies) have a corporate blog. The top 200 companies account for 63% of the corporate blogs among this group. In contrast, the bottom 200 (those listed 301 - 500) account for 26% of the corporate blogs. corporate_blogging_fortune500_trends_blogs_rank_b.gif Of the top five corporations on the list, three have blogs. These include Wal-Mart (#1), Chevron (#3) and General Motors (#4). Exxon Mobil (#2) and Conoco Phillips (#5) do not have blogs.

5. Level of Interaction On Corporate Blogs, Links To Twitter

corporate_blogging_fortune500_trends_level_of_interaction_twitter.jpg All 81 blogs were examined to determine the level of interactivity the blog allowed. This was done by looking at the blog to see if comments were accepted, if RSS feeds or email subscriptions were available and checking the date of the last post to determine how current it was. Over 90% of the Fortune 500 blogs take comments, have RSS feeds and take subscriptions. These blogs are kept current with frequent posts on a range of topics. It appears that those companies that have made the decision to “blog” have utilized the tool well. There is frequent posting, on-going discussion and the ability to follow the conversation easily through RSS or subscriptions. Of the 81 blogs located, 23 (28%) linked to a corporate Twitter account. Many more may have Twitter accounts, but at this time they do not link to those from their homepage or blog.

6. Use of Podcasting and Video

corporate_blogging_fortune500_trends_podcasting_video_id241434.jpg The 2008 Fortune 500 blogs were examined to determine usage of additional social media tools. Researchers looked for the use of podcasting (audio files available for download) and video to enhance the blog. Sixteen percent of the F500 are podcasting and 21% are using video on their blog sites. The data collected in an earlier study on the Inc. 500, indicates significant differences between the two groups on their involvement with these social media tools. corporate_blogging_fortune500_trends_podcasting_video_b.gif

7. Comparison With Other Sectors

corporate_blogging_fortune500_trends_comparison_sectors_id6549091.jpg Our research with other groups, using 2008 data, indicates that the Fortune 500 are blogging at a lower rate than other business groups (Inc. 500), US colleges and universities and the largest US Charities as listed in Forbes Magazine. corporate_blogging_fortune500_trends_comparison_sectors_b.gif The Fortune 500 is blogging at a rate that pales in comparison to the latest data on other businesses and organizations. The Inc. 500 are made up the fastest-growing, private companies in the US, while the Fortune 500 is based on revenue and may include public and private companies. It is possible that the difference is related to size of company, internal structure or corporate philosophy regarding open communication with its stakeholders. Colleges and universities are moving quickly to develop more effective communications with a very wired generation. America’s charities are leveling the playing field by quickly adopting social media. As budgets get tighter and donations more scarce, not for profits have jumped ahead of all other sectors in the use of social media. Regardless of the motivation, the Fortune 500 companies appear to be moving more slowly in their adoption of social media tools.


This research represents the first comprehensive study of public-facing blogs in the 2008 Fortune 500. It conclusively shows that while the Fortune 500 companies are adopting social media at a rate much slower than other leading businesses, universities and charities, many more of them are blogging than has been previously reported. Those F500 companies that have taken the leap into the blogosphere represent all the things that make social media great.
  • They’re diverse in both size and industry thereby adding a range of new perspectives to the online conversation.
  • They’re offering RSS feeds and comments to enable their readers to better control and participate in that conversation.
  • And they’re exploring other ways - like videoblogging and podcasting - to communicate with their readers.
Given the multitude of challenging communication obligations that large organizations have to a diverse range of stakeholders, it’s exciting to see this much adoption already. And just like the rabbit and the hare, we expect “slow and steady” to win the race for these companies.

2008 Fortune 500 Companies with Blogs (n=81) - As of March, 2009

Originally written by Eric Mattson and Nora Ganim Barnes for the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth Center for Marketing Research and first published on April 1st 2008 as "The Fortune 500 and Blogging: Slow and Steady - and Farther Along than Expected".

About the authors norabarnes_thumbnail.jpg Dr. Nora Ganim Barnes earned a Ph.D. in Consumer Behavior from the University of Connecticut and is a Chancellor Professor of Marketing and Director of the Center for Marketing Research at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth. As Director of the Center for Marketing Research, she has provided services in brand and product development, research, promotion, and commercial television production to hundreds of clients.

eircmattson_thumbnail.jpg Eric Mattson is the CEO of Financial Insigths Inc., a Seattle-based boutique research firm focusing on technology innovation in finance and banking. He’s also an independent social media scholar whose research has appeared in BusinessWeek, Inc. Magazine and a number of other publications. Eric Mattson is a graduate of the University of Washington where he earned dual degrees in business administration and mathematics as a Washington Scholar.

Photo credits: The Fortune 500 and Blogging: Slow and Steady - Eric Issel?e Methodology - Silvia Bukovac 1. Changes In The Fortune 500 (2007-2008) - Slobodan Djajic 3. Blogs by Industry - felinda 5. Level of Interaction On Corporate Blogs, Links To Twitter - Tatiana53 6. Use of Podcasting and Video - Ben Goode 7. Comparison With Other Sectors - rido
Social Media: What Is It And Why It's So Important For Any Organization
Why is social media so important? And most importantly, why should you and your company care about? social_media_whay_is_it_important_for_companies_and_institutions.jpg Photo credit: grki In this article, web strategist George Benckenstein explains in very simple, non-technical words, what marketing experts and businessmen have failed to understand about the real value of social media for companies and institutions. Social media is NOT a mean to deliver a superior experience to customers. That's the wrong way to look at it. Social media is simply a mean to get things done. The essence of social media is in the group, the network of people which lies behind it. Well, these people are the best and most effective marketing agents you will ever find. You have made a great new product? Give it out. Let people test it, give you feedback, criticism. That's what social media are for. Finding yourself uneasy when thinking of exposing your product up for criticism in front of so many people? Think again. If you want to buy a new car you are not going to buy what car-makers tell you in their ads, right? You probably ask advice and suggestions to your friends and listen to their car recommendations. How much they like it, whether it is comfortable, issues about the brakes they have heard about, and so on. In the Flat World evangelized by George Benckenstein, people are not anymore subjected to what companies tell them to like or buy. Social media has given everyone the possibility to easily talk to each other, to exchange opinions, while getting rid of all the corporate hype and false promises typical of brand advertising. Here a concise, clear and focused view on why social media are so important for today institutions. Recommended reading:

Social Media vs Institutions

social_mdia_institutions_communicate_collaborate_customers_by_george_benckenstein_friction_b.jpg by George Benckenstein
So you think you’ve heard every perspective there is about and why companies should take notice? Think again. What I hope you understand after reading this is the true importance of social media and why most companies don’t have a clue as to what it means for their business, customers, employees and their competitors.

Do You Deliver a Superior Customer Experience?

Download the full study here (PDF)
The answer would be NO. Chances are your company is NOT delivering a superior customer experience. So is this what’s important about social media? The answer is… Partially. Now take a moment to consider just what comes between a traditional institution or organization and its customers.
  • You have a business with all the internal barriers that exists in all companies.
  • Now you have traditional media to communicate with your customers.
  • You rely on interruptions and disruptions to message to your clients and potential customers.
Is it any wonder businesses are disconnected from their customers and their experiences?

So What The Hell Does This Have To Do With Social Media?

social_mdia_institutions_communicate_collaborate_customers_by_george_benckenstein_traditional_vs_flatworld_model_b.jpg Social media, or let’s say the platforms created to support it, have created a slight paradigm shift (well maybe a bit more than slight). In order to understand the enormity of this shift, you have to start looking at this phenomena a little differently - from a holistic point of view. This new dynamic has created an environment where communication, collaboration and coordination exist without barriers. It gives power to individuals to compete with institutions at a level unprecedented. Institutional containment as we know it does not exist. Market barriers no longer exist as we know it. Let’s think about social media thru another lens. Let’s look at it around “coordinating effort” or, from the basis any institution is created which is, getting things done. This is what’s important about social media. Institutions and organizations are wondering what to do about social media. Policies are being written, consultants are being brought in to figure out how it can be used as a marketing channel. Companies are missing what’s really important about social media and the platforms that support it - and here it is. Cooperation cost is the economic burden of coordinating effort. Traditionally, the solution for coordinating effort was to create an institution. More recently, since the cost for people to communicate with each other has fallen thru the floor, many are rethinking the system in which people communicate, collaborate and coordinate. A great example of this is found on social networking platforms - platforms where coordination and communication are designed into the system. Systems that allow group output without regard to traditional institutional models.

Looking At Things In New Ways Is Hard To Do

social_mdia_institutions_communicate_collaborate_customers_by_george_benckenstein_new_way_id2887223.jpg So what does this mean for the traditional institutional model? It means that business leaders have to get comfortable with reviewing something very core - their original purpose - their existence. In the end, I really think there are only 2 choices:
  1. Embrace and leverage communication, collaboration and coordination platforms. Institutions and individuals alike all have access to a world of new opportunities. This is difficult because it requires us to forget what we think we know and look at our circumstance dispassionatly and objectively. It will also require us all to get involved and learn. You can’t fake this.
  2. Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression and Acceptance. You might make the connection to the K?bler-Ross model’s 5 discrete stages of how people come to terms with dying. This is how many institutions and organizations will come to terms with these new, communication, collaboration and coordination platforms.

So here we are. This is happening. The ultimate importance of the web is coming to fruition. It’s the ultimate communication platform. It gives institutions the power to outdistance their competition by breaking down communication barriers between their employees, their customers and their suppliers. We all have the power to create personal networks to coordinate effort and accomplish anything. Thomas Friedman said “what can be done, will be done.” There is nothing standing in our way. Let’s get busy getting things done.

Additional Resources On Social Media

Originally written by George Benckenstein for his blog, and first published on April 28th 2009 as "Social Media vs Institutions"

About the author georgebenckenstein_thumbnail.jpg George Benckenstein is a web strategist with lots of experiences as a marketing director and consultant. He's currently manager at and Administaff Inc. George Benckenstein blogs at

Photo credits: Looking at Things in New Ways Is Hard to Do - Gunnar Pippel All other images by George Benckenstein
How Much Is My Site Worth? Best Services To Estimate A Website Value
Is there a way to find out the actual value of your blog or website? If you wanted to consider accepting new publishing partners or were caressing the idea of selling out to someone else, would there be tools to help you gauge how much your site could be worth? Website_value_how_much_my_site_is_worth_size485.jpg To be really honest, if I were you, I would use one of the traditional brick and mortar approaches to estimate your website value by multiplying your annual revenue for at least two or three years and setting that resulting value as an indicative market price you can sell most any business at. If you want to experiment a little with this standard approach, fly to CNN - What's your business worth - really? which provides info and an easy to use calculator to estimate the potential selling value range of your business. On the other hand, there is a growing set of free online web tools which claim to be able to provide as well an estimate of your website value. And if you have ever been wondering how much your site is really worth, these free online web services, will indeed provide some initial indication. But that's where the value ends. As a matter of fact, you may have a hard time finding any two of these free website estimation services returning the same value estimate for any website you submit. Each one has likely a different approach to calculate how much your website is worth, and in most cases how this is done is never clearly disclosed on the service website. In general, these web site value estimation services analyze the number of inbound links you have from other sites while assigning a monetary value to each. Additionally, some track your web site presence inside major directories (e.g.: DMOZ), your ranking on Alexa, your Google PageRank or additional data coming from other web site traffic data sources (e.g.: Compete, Quantcast, etc.). The final result is that these website value estimation services are not really instruments on which to establish a business plan or an acquisition strategy but rather tools that you can use mostly to:
a) get an idea of what your site could be worth (by averaging some of the results obtained) b) compare your site value to other competitors in your niche c) measure trends over time d) show off to your friends and colleagues how much your web site is worth
If you want to give these website value estimation services a spin, I suggest you check what differentiates each service from the next by looking at the comparative criteria I have utilized in the table below:
  • Procedural Approach: explanations of how results are calculated
  • Sources: Data sources utilized to estimate site value
  • Results customization: options to personalize results or data sources used
  • Embeddable Widget: opportunity to republish site value on other sites
  • Custom URL: reference URL providing your site value
Here all the details:

Best Services To Estimate A Website Value Comparison Table

Best Services To Estimate A Website Value

  1. SiteValueCheck

    No other free web service inside this guide is as clear as SiteValueCheck to explain how much your website is worth and WHY. Instead of giving you just an estimate of your website value (providing little or no explanation of how that result was obtained), SiteValueCheck shares detailed info on each and every criteria that is used for scoring your site. Data used to estimate your site is: Google PageRank, Alexa Traffic Ranking, backlinks depth, average popularity of related web sites, age of search engine presence, and webpages load times. Unfortunately, the report you get is not customizable nor you can reach it at a specific URL. You cannot share your website value using a widget.

  2. Stimator

    Stimator measures the value of your website using the following data: relevance of the domain (.com scores more than .org or .net), inbound links, ranking of your site inside search engines, financial market fluctuations, and social media mentions. Stimator also indexes your website value for future reference. You won't find a clear explanation of the procedure used to evaluate your website, nor any option to obtain a customized value (e.g. for a specific period of time). You can share your website score using a widget or a dedicate URL which is unique for your site.

  3. ValueMyWeb

    Unlike the other services included in this guide, ValueMyWeb does not provide you an immediate result of the worth of your site, but rather processes your domain and e-mails you a unique link to access your own report. (Not customizable) data taken into account is: Google PageRank, Alexa Traffic Ranking, organic keywords value, and social media mentions. At the bottom of the webpage with your report, there is also a small piece of HTML code you can copy and embed onto any website to show people how your website has scored.

  4. URL Appraisal

    URL Appraisal is a web service that evaluates your website using a proprietary algorithm. The service uses data from your domain age, Google PageRank, Alexa Traffic Ranking, Google inbound links, Yahoo! inbound links and URL marketability. Inside the About Us section of URL Appraisal website, you are explained how data is processed and calculated. The report of your website value is not customizable. You can share the score of your site using an embeddable widget or a URL which is unique to you.

  5. WebsiteValued

    Website Valued estimates how much your website is worth using data about your daily visitors, advertising revenue, sales revenue, and active subscribers. To get a tailored report of your website value, choose a specific period of time and then let the service generate again your site score. Unfortunately, you are not explained how Website Valued calculates the value of your site. With a dedicated URL for each site submitted to the service, you can access or share your own report page without launching Website Valuated again. No widget available.

  6. MyWebsiteWorth

    MyWebsiteWorth appraises your website by looking at data from your Google PageRank, Alexa Traffic Rankings, unique visitors, and total visitors. The service shares no info on the process to obtain the value of your site, and you have no option to get a tailored value which refers to a specific period of time or webpage. You can share your website score by giving people the custom URL of your result page. No widget is available.

  7. DnScoop

    DnScoop analyzes the value of your website checking your Google PageRank, Alexa Traffic Ranking, and domain age. You cannot narrow down your website score to a specific period of time or a specific web page. DnScoop does not allow you to share your website value with unique URL (but a widget is available). A clear outline of the steps taken to generate your website value is also missing.

  8. Welcomia Website Value

    Welcomia provides a free tool to estimate the value of your website according to the following parameters: Google PageRank, Alexa Traffic Ranking, backlinks, host IP, domain age, Google Adsense potential, DMOZ inclusion, search engine backlinks, and Google indexed pages. Unfortunately, the precision of the (not customizable) data you get, does not match a clear explanation of how data is processed during the estimation procedure. No custom URL is available to check your results at a later time, or share your score to other people. An embeddable widget is also missing.

  9. Site Value Calculator

    Site Value Calculator gives you an estimate of the value of your website or blog. A brief summary displays the criteria that Site Value Calculator uses to evaluate your site (Google PageRank, Alexa Traffic Ranking, backlinks, domain age, DMOZ inclusion), but there is no explanation of what these results mean, why they matter, and how they are processed. You can share your score using a dedicated widget and a URL which is unique for your own site.

  10. WebsiteOutlook

    WebsiteOutlook generates an estimate of the value of your website using the following data: net worth, daily pageviews, daily ads revenue, Alexa Traffic Ranking, Google PageRank, backlinks, DMOZ inclusion (a large open directory of human-reviewed web sites), host IP and server location. Unfortunately, Website Outlook does not provide any info on how your website data is calculated. WebsiteOutlook does not allow customizable reports. You can embed your website score using a dedicated widget or sharing a custom URL which is unique for your site.

  11. CubeStat

    CubeStat appraises your website using data from: Alexa Traffic Ranking, Quantcast Traffic Ranking, Compete Traffic Ranking, Google PageRank, backlinks, Yahoo! Ranking, DMOZ inclusion (an open directory of human-reviewed websites), host IP, server location, and domain age. CubeStat fails to provide a clear explanation of which data is used to produce your website value. You cannot customize the way your website value is created or delivered. An embeddable widget and a custom URL for your website value result are also not available.

  12. Ninja Website Appraiser

    Ninja Website Appraiser is a free web-based tool that makes a quick evaluation of your website value using data from your PageRank, Alexa Traffic Rankings, average backlinks from major search engines, text link ads, product placement, and independent advertising sources. You get no info on how the data is processed, and you have also no additional option to narrow down the results and get a tailored report. To share your website value you can use a customized embeddable widget, but not a unique URL which points directly to a webpage which contains your site results.

  13. YourWebsiteValue

    Your WebSite Value uses some of the data related to your site (Google PageRank, Alexa Traffic Ranking, inbound links, domain age) to generate an estimate of your website value. It is not clear (and not explanation is provided on the official website) how Your Website Value analyzes the data and produces the score for your site. You cannot get a customized report of your site value on a specific period of time. Your Website Value allows you to share the score of your site using a widget or a custom URL.

  14. Website Calculator

    With Website Calculator you can appraise your website and check specific indicators used to score your site: Google PageRank, Alexa Traffic Rank, Alexa traffic details, backlinks and IP geolocation. The service does not explain the procedure used to get your results, nor shares any info about what is PageRank, ATR, or any other estimate indicator. Website Calculator results cannot be customized and there is no specific URL that points to your website value. An embeddable widget to display your score is also not available.

  15. How Much Is Your Blog Worth?

    How Much Is Your Blog Worth is an applet that calculates the value of your site using API. You cannot customize how the applet works (e.g. to generate your website value for a specific period of time). Also missing is a link back to that you can use to verify which data is taken into account and help producing your website value. You can share your website score using a widget, but not a unique URL.

  16. Sootle Directory

    The free tool from Sootle Directory analyzes the backlinks of your website and gives you an estimate of its value. Once you get your website worth, you are given a piece of code to embed on any web page to show how much your domain has scored. The code is automatically updated when new backlinks are discovered. No custom URL is provided to check back your score without re-submitting the address of your site.

Originally prepared by Robin Good and Daniele Bazzano for MasterNewMedia, and first published on May18th, 2009 as "How Much Is My Site Worth? Best Services To Estimate A Website Value".
Media Literacy: Making Sense Of New Technologies And Media by George Siemens - May 16 09
Media Literacy is about asking pertinent questions about what's there, and noticing what's not there. And it's the instinct to question what lies behind media productions - the motives, the money, the values and the ownership - and to be aware of how these factors influence content. (Source: Media Awareness Network)
Media_literacy_digest_georgesiemens_by_Jason_Rhode_436318573_e191e4976b_size485.jpg Photo credit: Jason Rhode Inside this Media Literacy Digest:
  • Emergent Meaning or Prescription? - What if meaning emerges as a by-product of interaction… rather than something that exists externally (in the head of an expert) and is then communicated to prospective learners?
  • The Psychology of Attention - Attention and multitasking is an important aspect of learning.
  • Growth of Universities - Globally, enrollment in HE increased from 68 million in 1991 to 144 million in 2005.
  • All Information Is Suspect - The big lesson of our Wikipedia-era is not that amateur information is potentially false, but rather that all information must be questioned.
  • CNIE, uOttawa, and Mohawk College Presentation - Society builds institutions in response to the information needs and habits of an era.
  • This Thing Called the Future - Which concepts / ideas / philosophies are of suitable force to serve as a foundation for building new institutions, business models, and even societies?
If you want to understand how new technologies are changing the way both teachers and learners experience education, this weekly digest will help you make sense of the evolution in progress inside society and what the future may hold for you. Here all the details:

eLearning Resources and News

learning, networks, knowledge, technology, trends by George Siemens

Emergent Meaning or Prescription?

Media_literacy_georgesiemens_emergent_learning_id39628181.jpg Dave Snowden’s recent post on emergent meaning or prescription reflects what many of us have been saying about education:
new approaches that have become possible since technology matured from process control and information flow to the networked, fragmented and semi-structured worlds of social computing. Here as communication flow increases, patterns of meaning start to emerge.
When information is bounded in courses, books, newspapers and other frameworks that are established by experts, the primary mode of interaction is intended to be absorption. The predominant view is that information can be known, packaged, and communicated. Through social media, information is increasingly fragmented. Frameworks created to communicate no longer have the pull they once did. Hence, even the concept of a course can be questioned. What if meaning emerges as a by-product of interaction… rather than something that exists externally (in the head of an expert) and is then communicated to prospective learners? What if coherence of subject matter is produced individually, rather than externally? This - or something close to it - is the fundamental change higher education needs to understand.

The Psychology of Attention

Media_literacy_georgesiemens_attention_id303490.jpg The psychology of attention lists numerous views (and research projects) on how attention works. Some contradictory information - see the “cocktail party effect” and “reading and writing multitasking”. Attention and multitasking is an important aspect of learning. I’m personally not convinced that we are very good at multitasking - I think we task switch rapidly, leaving the impression that we can multitask. We should be relying on existing research in the psychology of attention to inform our views of learning, memory, and multitasking. New technologies can be a bit deceptive, suggesting we are entering a brave new world… but they hardly overwrite several decades of research into the human brain.

Growth of Universities

Media_literacy_georgesiemens_graph_id40227251.jpg I’ll happily admit my bias: higher needs to be rethought and restructured. But it’s important to take an accurate look at where we are and where we might end up (a subject for futures thinking, as stated previously). Higher education is not (yet?) in decline. It’s growing. Rapidly. Daily announcements are made about funding for higher education: research, new buildings, new campuses, etc. Globally, enrollment in HE increased from 68 million in 1991 to 144 million in 2005. The need for education has never been greater. But while education is in demand, the current model seems untenable. The expense of education in the developed world is not feasible as a model for the next 3 billion people that require education in developing regions of the world. I personally think online and networked learning will play a central role in expanding access, improving quality, and reducing the costs of education (see Daniels, Kanwar, Uvalic-Trumbec). It’s time to question those aspects of our thinking about education that were formed in a pre-internet era and are no longer needed.

All Information Is Suspect

Media_literacy_georgesiemens_suspect_id27410901.jpg The big lesson of our Wikipedia-era is not that amateur information is potentially false, but rather that all information must be questioned. The last week has produced one of those lessons that information literacy educators will be using a case studies for years: Elsevier admits to producing a fake journal that looked like it was peer reviewed, but was sponsored by Merck. And then, only a few days later, it’s revealed that Elsevier published at least six journals in a similar “sponsored by” method. The somewhat arrogant attitudes of journal editors and publishers is called into question in media environments where transparency is sought. What happens to the authority of journals when everyone is (can be) an information producer? Is all information eventually equal? What / who will be the mediators of quality? Instead of hierarchy, in an ideal world, quality is determined (vetted) by a network of experts and amateurs alike. Journals will likely continue to exist for a while, at least. But fields like education, engineering, medicine, etc. no longer need their mediative role. We can mediate our own resources in our own networks.

CNIE, uOttawa, and Mohawk College Presentation

Media_literacy_georgesiemens_presentation_id33379811.jpg I had the pleasure last week of presenting to Mohawk College (they recently switched to D2L and the conference was focused on transitioning to online and blended learning). Then, a short hop over to uOttawa for a presentation on emerging technologies and social learning. After a brief trip home (to watch my youngest daughter play in a hockey tournament), I’m back in Ottawa for Canadian Network for Innovation in Education’s annual conference. I used Prezi for the keynote. The topic: A Firm Foundation (references in delicious). My main assertion: society builds institutions in response to the information needs and habits of an era. An understanding of the future of education requires an exploration of what is being done with information (instead of looking at "new learners" or "web 2.0").

This Thing Called the Future

Media_literacy_georgesiemens_future_id724063.jpg It’s ironic that in times of rapid change knowing what the future holds is simultaneously more important and more inaccessible. Which trends are “real”? Which concepts / ideas / philosophies are of suitable force to serve as a foundation for building new institutions, business models, and even societies? Futures thinking is an important requirement for educators (particularly leaders and funders). I have found two resources to be particularly valuable in directing my thinking about the future:
  • The Futurist is a magazine published by the World Futures Society - a group that explores trends, hosts an annual conference, and generally tries to make sense of what is happening.
  • Trendwatching focuses less on trying to figure out the future… and more on trying to give a cohesive overview of what is happening today. See their recent innovation jubilation briefing for a sample.

Originally written by George Siemens for elearnspace and first published on May 13th 2009 in his newsletter eLearning Resources and News.

About the author George-Siemens.jpg To learn more about George Siemens and to access extensive information and resources on elearning check out Explore also George Siemens connectivism site for resources on the changing nature of learning and check out his new book "Knowing Knowledge".

Photo credits: Emergent Meaning or Prescription? - adempercem The Psychology of Attention - mipan Growth of Universities - Martin Konz All Information Is Suspect - immajestic CNIE, uOttawa, and Mohawk College Presentation - Jiri Kabele This Thing Called the Future - maek123
What Business Strategy For News Publishers? When Most Of Your Content Is Freely Republished Elsewhere How Can You Survive? The AP Story
The most recent statistical data by duplicated content analysis engine Attributor indicates that nearly half of the web sites taking content from major publishers are copying more than 90 percent of the original text of articles. For prestigious and long-established news organization like AP, this is a completely new battleground and understanding how to counter such new issues has rapidly become of critical strategic importance. news-publishing-strategy-birilli_id38584441-485.jpg Photo credit: David Humphrey What is the most effective path towards revenue growth for major online publishers in the face of such obstacles? Charging for the news like Murdoch advises? Many such large publishing companies are still trying to find answers to that question. Certainly pursuing legal enforcement against blatant content pirates is one possible route, but is not always successful and it often brings back negative PR consequences. With billions of people around the world equipped with real-time news publishing tools, including increasingly successful independent journalists, the world's attention span has permanently embraced this "Content Nation" as a source of information that they trust. Why not leveraging their ubiquitous presence and their reporting and content production abilities? What are the possible roads to online sustainability for major online news publishers? Content business and news media expert John Blossom, analyzes the Associated Press story and the possible paths that could help AP and similar organizations to ride (and not fight) in the new online information ecosystem. Here his analysis:

Sorting Out the AP Moves: What Will Really Work for Its Members?

make_money_online_publishing_AP_moves_id39891201.jpg by John Blossom
There's been a whirlwind of announcements, commentary and downright bad blood beginning to steam up around the Associated Press' moves to position news content from its own reporters and its member organizations more effectively in the online environment. The latest developments in the war for news organization survival were kicked off by the AP board's announcement that it would be moving aggressively to identify and to challenge web site publishers that were using unlicensed AP content illegally.

Where Associated Press Is Headed

make_money_online_publishing_AP_directions_id643398.jpg The "why" of this move, largely ignored by media reports, is contained in the rest of the announcement: AP is introducing a new schedule of lower fees for its member news organizations that will make it easier for them to participate in AP distribution and news use. Faced with having to respond to the revenue crunches experienced by most news organizations this year, AP has no choice but to ensure that their online revenue streams from organizations consuming AP content can be captured as effectively as possible. From the perspective of public relations, any constructive aspects of the latest AP moves appear to have been lost in a sea of furor rising up from bloggers, Twitters and other online voices. TechCrunch viewed AP's moves as being akin to the RIAA's moves to prosecute consumers for downloading relatively meager quantities of music on to their PCs - legal moves that have backfired in many ways both from a legal and public relations perspective for the music publishing industry. TechCrunch also highlighted a cease-and-desist order sent by AP to a web site using AP-posted video from YouTube in an embedded video player. Of course YouTube videos are made for embedding in other web sites, and the site that happened to be using it was that of WTNQ-FM, already an AP affiliate member. Google CEO Eric Schmidt commented in the wake of these PR fiascos by AP, that it's a good idea not to "piss off your customers"- especially those who are doing their very best to abide by fair use policies for the reuse of copyrighted content. AP could certainly take some lessons from Google's efforts to get publishers to swallow some of their own bitter pills with much kinder and gentler approaches to public and professional-level communications.

The Quest for New Revenues

make_money_online_publishing_AP_quest_id578115.jpg The question is, though, what is really the most effective path towards revenue growth for AP at this time - and are they handling the rollout of new strategies in a way that will help those new revenue streams to materialize? From the looks of things, AP is still struggling to find answers to that question. Certainly pursuing legal enforcement against blatant content pirates is one possible route, and it's not without its merits. Data published by Attributor indicates that nearly half of the web sites taking content from major publishers are copying more than 90 percent of the original text of articles. Knocking out parasite web sites that copy unattributed content strictly for the purpose of sucking up ad revenues that would go otherwise to the original publishers would do the bottom lines of all online publishers a great favor. It's a shame that AP's initial efforts along this vein have resulted in embarrassing misfires - it's an important goal that should not be sidelined by a mishandling of the policies built on top of the underlying copy detection technologies. But the larger concern is whether AP is really "getting" how to make money in the online publishing environment. The AP board announcement included a statement indicating AP's intent to build a search portal that would feature only content from "authoritative" news sources. While this is a constructive goal of sorts, we've had such search engines for years already. The Topix search engine focuses primarily on traditional media sources, and, for that matter, Yahoo! News and other major portal news services have focused on aggregating and searching mainstream news even longer. Both are good efforts in their own ways, but they're not floating the boat for most online news publishing revenues and they're not growing in any significant way. Why would yet another search portal wind up being the solution to news publishers' concerns?

Get Valuable Content and Make Money From It

make_money_online_publishing_AP_valuable_content_id259631.jpg The future that AP needs to embrace can be summed up in a fairly simple phrase: get news content that people really want to read to where it can make money. In broad concept that's pretty much what AP's mission has been all along, but in insisting that that mission cannot be expanded or altered significantly in light of how news is created today is holding back both AP and its member organizations from surviving and thriving in online news markets. Media organizations need to become better at aggregating sources of news more agnostically: if someone is streaming live video via Qik from their mobile phone at the site of a plane crash, then AP should be the natural source to which news organizations would turn to find such content as breaking news, not "i-reports". The idea of "authoritative" news need not always be synonymous with editorial and news-gathering methods that grew up in the era of printing presses. With today's publishing technologies editorial values can be implemented in many ways that can expedite the most compelling information getting to the right audiences at the right time. This recognition that its own members need better agnostic aggregation of news sources is key to AP supporting the economic performance of those news organizations. Thomson Reuters CEO noted recently at a conference, "Why does The New York Times need to have 600-700 journalists? Why not 30 journalists with 30 apprentices?" In other words, if the economics of news have shifted permanently, why try to justify subsidizing jobs that need to move elsewhere in the news economy simply because you want only specific people in specific organizations producing news a specific way? With billions of people around the world equipped with real-time news publishing tools, including increasingly successful independent journalists, the world's attention span has permanently embraced this "Content Nation" as a source of information that they trust.

The Strategy to Survive

make_money_online_publishing_AP_strategy_id774197.jpg That's a fact that will simply never go away. Trying to make it go away is about at pointless as anyone who tried to sift the tea thrown overboard in Boston Harbor back in 1775. Even if you could do it, who would want to drink it? Instead of arguing with people who are both consumers and sources of news, AP needs to take a deep breath and think about how they can power the profits of today's news organizations using whatever content - news, metadata, links, video, anything - will help them to make money. In some instances this may mean new members and approaches to membership, in other instances it may mean playing a very different role with existing members and in how they participate in its editorial efforts. This can be a hard thing for any organization with a venerated history as rich as AP's to do, and I know that they are trying their best to move in that direction. But if they were able to leave the confines of the Rockefeller Center behind to set up shop in dot-com West Side digs, one would hope that AP could help to carry both its traditions of excellence and of innovation to new levels of performance in the news industry that take it in directions that others have yet to dare to imagine. The time to dream a new dream at AP has come. I do hope that they start to envision it and to realize that dream aggressively some time soon, both for their own sake and for the sake of their members.

Originally written by John Blossom for Shore and first published on April 9th 2009 as "Sorting Out the AP Moves: What Will Really Work for Its Members?"

About the author John_Blossom_85.gif John Blossom's is the author of "Content Nation", a great book about the new media publishing revolution taking place. His career spans more than twenty years of marketing, research, product management and development in advanced information and media venues, including major financial publishers and financial services companies, as well as earlier experience in broadcast media. Mr. Blossom founded Shore Communications Inc. in 1997, specializing in research and advisory services and strategic marketing consulting for publishers and consumers of content services.

Photo credits: Sorting Out the AP Moves: What Will Really Work for Its Members? - Matthew Jones Where Associated Press Is Headed - Vasyl Yakobchuk The Quest for New Revenues - Rafael Angel Irusta Machin Get Valuable Content and Make Money From It - Marc Dietrich The Strategy to Survive - Daniel Gilbey
Problem Solving Techniques: Get Your Creative Thinking Juices Flowing By Using The SCAMPER Technique
If you, like me, think that life is an ongoing learning opportunity and possibly the most interesting part of our lifetime-long journey, you must have already realized how critical it is to be able to think outside of the box when it comes to problem-solving times. Creative_thinking_Scamper__id372241_size485.jpg Photo credit: felinda While most people associate creativity with artistic work, being really creative really means being able to cope with issues and problems in novel and innovative ways. Of course when you apply that concept to painting or music and the problem is how to create something people like, it seems that such an endeavour is reserved to those communicating and expressing themselves through the arts. But it isn't so. Your plummer can be as creative or more than your favorite rock start or painter, if he can get around unexpected problems and situations in simple, effective and enjoyable ways. What happens in his head when he needs to find a way to solve your unique sink problem is the same process that takes place in a musician's head when she wants to find a better outro after the refrain of her new song. The more you have trained yourself in the habit of thinking creatively the easier and more enjoyable it becomes to face and clear up any type of problem one meets. The more you strengthen your ability to question, imagine, and adapt, the easier it becomes for you to realize that there are no unsolvable problems or lack of new ideas to open a new path. You just need some specific approach that gets you to think outside of your traditional thinking patterns. SCAMPER is a technique you can use to spark your creativity and problem-solving abilities. First conceived by Bob Earle, and later popularized by Michael Michalko in his book Thinkertoys, the SCAMPER method allows anyone to strengthen his ability to question, imagine,and adapt even in situations where it would seem that there are no more creative options available. At its very essence, SCAMPER is a powerful checklist of suggestions that prompts you to think and look at things in different ways. It has been designed to force you to think differently about your problem and to eventually come up with some really innovative solutions. SCAMPER core idea is based on the notion that creative work, original ideas and most everything you define as "new" is nothing else but a remix of something that is already out there. Here my visual interpretation of the SCAMPER creative thinking approach with some of my own very personal suggestions.

Photo credit: Michael Deutch - Go to the article - Download map template

Problem Solving: The SCAMPER Technique

by Robin Good

S - Substitute

Creative_thinking_SCAMPER_substitute_id14143171_large.jpg Components, materials, people Substitute your typical recipe of ingredients by changing a few ones. Introduce a new guy in the team or let John play the female part this time.

C - Combine

Creative_thinking_SCAMPER_combine_id533034_large.jpg Mix, combine with other assemblies or services, integrate Mashup, juxtapose and bring together elements and resources that can complement or enrich each other in new and novel ways. Like for a cool cocktail drink, selecting and mixing well ingredients can make a hell of difference.

A - Adapt

Creative_thinking_SCAMPER_adapt_id614608_large.jpg Alter, change function, use part of another element Think sideways and utilize tools and ideas within new contexts and situations. Use car driving to think, or a drum bell to create a cheap steadycam for your mini camcorder.

M - Mix, Modify

Creative_thinking_SCAMPER_mix_modify_id8941172_large.jpg Increase or reduce in scale, change shape, modify attributes (e.g. colour) Look at the micro and macro viewpoints of it or start watching it from an unusual position. Look at it with different eyes.

P - Put to Another Use

Creative_thinking_SCAMPER_put_to_another_use_id20985931_large.jpg Change application, use for different purpose Break the rules and rethink the use and application an object can have. A bottle can be a flower vase just like a dismissed airplane can be a pretty original restaurant (I have been in one and I don't think I am going to ever forget.)

E - Erase / Eliminate

Creative_thinking_SCAMPER_erase_eliminate_id29232171_large.jpg Remove elements, simplify, reduce to core functionality Distill, extract the essence. Take off everything that is not relevant or needed. And then more. That's what I teach when I do information design: eliminate, turn off, mute. Leave only what really counts.

R - RePurpose / ReverseReUse

Creative_thinking_SCAMPER_repurpose_reuse_id4712251_large.jpg Turn inside out or upside down Diana Ross would have it this way:

Find More About the SCAMPER Technique:

Inspired by the work of Bob Earle, Michael Michalko, Angela Maiers and Michael Deutch. Originally written by Robin Good for MasterNewMedia and first published on May 13th, 2009 as "Problem Solving Techniques: Get Your Creative Thinking Juices Flowing By Using The SCAMPER Technique".

Photo credits: S - Substitute - itestro C - Combine - Xiao Fang Hu A - Adapt - dragerphot M - Mix, Modify - Jozsef Szasz-Fabian P - Put to Another Use - Nikolai Sorokin E - Erase / Eliminate - Dariusz Majgier R - RePurpose / ReverseReUse - Tommy Ingberg
Live Teaching And Learning Marketplaces: The Emerging Online Social Learning Networks For Professional Independent Educators
Live teaching and learning marketplaces are a new emergent set of online exchanges where independent teachers and educators can easily share or sell their know-how with those looking for it. Independent guides and experts can deliver live and recorded lessons using a full set of web conferencing and e-learning components. live_teaching_learning_marketplaces_size485.jpg Photo credit: Wong Sze Fei From video conferencing to document and presentation sharing there is no shortage of features enabling passionate and talented teachers to spread their talent and know-how to an audience of eager learners. These new online learning and teaching exchanges offer for the first time the example of a distributed and un-ininstutionalized educational venue that offers plenty of opportunity for learners while offering independent knowledge experts a qualified venue to share and commercialize their expertise without needing to be hired by a university. If you are wondering how can quality of teaching be guaranteed in such an environment, the answer lies in an effective mechanism, adopted by most of these teaching marketplaces, whereby students themselves are allowed to rate their own teachers. The other advantages that these online learning and teaching marketplaces offer, are many, both from a learners and teachers perspectives.
For learners:
  • It's cheaper than enrolling to a university course or going to a private teacher.
  • You are not limited inside pre-packaged learning paths, but you can rather follow your interests and cultivate your passions.
  • You can learn at your own pace, wherever you want, and finding the time which is most comfortable for you.
  • You don't have to get through an exam or test to prove that you are learning something. You are self-responsible for your education.

For teachers:
  • You can sell your own instructional material and share your knowledge with other passionate peers.
  • You can teach from the comfort of your place, earning money and limiting the costs of teaching to your Internet connection fee.
  • You get in touch with a far larger audience than the students you could physically meet.
  • You are not subjected to any institutional rule or approach in the way you teach, and you're greatly facilitated to use live interaction and multimedia content with your students.

If you want to explore in greater detail these new emergent online teaching and learning marketplaces, I have prepared for you a list of the most interesting live teaching platforms out there, complemented with a comparative table which compares each service main features:
  • Live classes: live audio / video conferencing integration
  • Social evaluation: connection and mutual evaluation between learners and teachers
  • Content distribution: redistribution and sharing of lessons outside the learning platform
  • Advertising: ads displayed on free version
  • Premium price / features: first price level to access extended features
Here all the details:

Live Teaching And Learning Marketplaces Comparison Table

Live Teaching And Learning Marketplaces

  1. WiZiQ

    WiZiQ is a web-based knowledge-sharing platform to facilitate live learning and teaching. Users can give or attend virtual classes and share instructional content with other people that have similar interests. WiZiQ supports full audio and video conferencing, and any learning material created inside the service can be redistributed via link or embed on web sites and blogs. Learners can rate their teachers and provide feedback about the quality of classes. WiZiQ free version includes: public chat, lessons with a maximum of 50 participants, ads displayed during navigation, and session recordings available for 30 days. Educators and students that need advanced features like private chat, lessons with up to 500 participants, ad-free browsing, or 1-year recording sessions can subscribe to the premium account for $49.95/year.

  2. Sclipo

    A social learning network where users can connect and share similar educational interests: That's what Sclipo is about. Aimed to both teachers and learners, the service takes advantage of a video conferencing facility that allows users to attend (or give) live classes up to 100 participants. The integration with Facebook Connect makes easy for learners to find and get in touch with peers, but also for teachers to post instructional material on Facebook profiles. Like in other similar learning platforms, learners can rate their teachers when the lesson is over. Sclipo is ad-supported and all main features are fully available for free, though to sell paid lessons and content or get no advertising, users need to upgrade at least to the first level of premium accounts for $4.95/month.

  3. Moontoast

    The aim of Moontoast is to build an online human knowledge marketplace where passionate users can connect and sell their expertise by giving live audio / video classes. When a user buys credit to attend a lesson (1 credit = $1), both teachers and Moontoast earn money. Teachers can be rated by students, so it's easy to find the right teacher by checking feedback from the Moontoast community. Material shared inside Moontoast cannot be redistributed elsewhere. The service is ads free and there are no premium accounts for the time being even if developers are planning to add extra features soon.

  4. MindBites

    MindBites is both a self-publishing platform and a virtual community where anyone can share knowledge and capitalize on her expertise. Users are free to explore MindBites and look for passionate peers, but can also purchase specific video lessons from teachers that distribute their content inside the MindBites marketplace. Each registered user can provide feedback and rate the content purchased or watched. Like Moontoast, you have no subscription plans, but rather credits you can collect for $0.99 each and use to compensate the teachers. Lessons you buy can be viewed online or downloaded, but not be redistributed unless explicitly released under a CC license. MindBites is free to use and users will not see any ads browsing through the site.

  5. ForteMall

    ForteMall is a web-based learning / training marketplace which provides both a global knowledge-sharing platform, and all the instruments to manage online learning transactions and exchanges. Teachers and learners can connect with each other in live conferences and trade their skills and expertise using the secure payment feature that relies on companies like PayPal. Teachers can also share instructional content on other web sites through a dedicated widget. ForteMall users can rate the quality of the service and the work of teachers. The web service is built on a freemium model, which means that basic services are all free, but optional features are available upon request. Teachers that desire more visibility for their courses can pay extra money to have their lessons featured inside special categories, listed on the homepage, or the name of their courses written in bold. Prices available inside the FAQ section of the site.

  6. Ailola

    Ailola caters to both students and teachers who want to share and sell their expertise online. Learners can connect with other passionate peers and share their knowledge, while teachers have access to a worldwide elearning market to sell instructional content and give live classes. Real ratings by other students provide insights about the quality of the instructors. Audio and video conferencing tools are standard for all Ailola registered users. Instructional content traded or transferred inside Ailola cannot be redistributed on other web sites or across the web. The service is free to use and ad-supported.

  7. xLingo

    xLingo works as an exchange community which facilitates people around the world to connect and learn a foreign language. Users can e-mail each other, participate in forums or group discussions, and even start their own mini-blog to share and receive help. Audio and video streaming, as well as the option to rate the work of other users, is not supported for the time being. The service survives thanks to advertisement, but users can get rid of ads and get more storage for their xLingo mailbox by purchasing a premium membership priced at $20/year.

  8. EduFire

    EduFire is a distance education platform and social network service that allows live tutoring online through text and video chat. Originally promoted as a language learning engine, EduFire has later broadened its offering by adding text preparation courses and a wider range of topics. Learners are free to join in and share their experience. Teachers can charge a variable fee to put their learning material for sale and pay Edufire for providing audio and video streaming tools. Edufire is not ad-supported, and registered users are welcome to rate and provide feedback on the content published.

  9. Eduslide

    Eduslide offers a public learning content management system to create, upload and access slides of whichever topic you like. Unlike other competitors that focus on live video conferencing or video content production, Eduslide just keeps it simple and allows registered users to create presentations to showcase and share their knowledge. Each content is open and subjected to ratings from the Eduslide community. Eduslide is an open source project, meaning that anyone can download the source code and build upon it to improve the service. Eduslide is ads-free and does not provide any way to embed or redistribute published elearning material.

Originally prepared by Robin Good and Daniele Bazzano for MasterNewMedia, and first published on May 11th, 2009 as "Live Teaching And Learning Marketplaces: The Emerging Online Social Learning Networks For Professional Independent Educators".
Media Literacy: Making Sense Of New Technologies And Media by George Siemens - May 9 09
Media literacy is the process of accessing, analyzing, evaluating and creating messages in a wide variety of media modes, genres and forms. It uses an inquiry-based instructional model that encourages people to ask questions about what they watch, see, and read. (Source: Wikipedia)
media_literacy_george_siemens_by_Jason_Rhode.jpg Photo credit: Jason Rhode Inside this Media Literacy Digest:
  • Social-Networking Research a Higher Priority? - My concern with the growth of social networks relates to how they are incorporated into education.
  • What Is Content Worth These Days? - Blogs, wikipedia, podcasts, open educational resources, and numerous other developments have shown that content - while valuable for learning - has limited economic value.
  • New Realities in Higher Education - Ray Scroeder has started a new blog devoted to articles / news related to current challenges in higher education.
  • New Technology Supporting Informal Learning - The classroom is a model that communicates what is known; the lab, in contrast, is a model that explores what is not yet known.
If you are passionate about technology improvements and the way they are opening new scenarios for both educators and learners, this weekly digest may help you to make sense of the disruptive changes that are right behind the corner. Here all the details:

eLearning Resources and News

learning, networks, knowledge, technology, trends by George Siemens

Should Computer Scientists Make Social-Networking Research a Higher Priority?

Media_literacy_georgesiemens_social_networks_research.jpg Should Computer Scientists Make Social-Networking Research a Higher Priority?:
Facebook and Wikipedia are just the beginning. The real power of social networks will be showcased by projects that unite far-flung participants to help track disease outbreaks, revolutionize neighborhood-watch programs, encourage energy conservation, and serve other civic and community goals…”.
No doubt, social networks will grow in prominence. We’re still at the early stages of exploring how networks influence social relationships. Different types social relationships arise when geography is not a factor. Sites like Twitter can provide people with strong social connections to people they have not yet met face-to-face. I have better relationships with people in other countries, due to social technologies, than I do with some people who are located in the same building as I am. My concern with the growth of social networks relates to how they are incorporated into education. Social networks are imported - as are many technologies and related concepts - from outside fields. We are, sadly, not leading in research on learning as a networked phenomenon. Our language and concepts are imported from math, physics, and sociology. That in itself is not bad. But to truly begin to utilize networks for learning, we need to ask questions that address needs in our field. How do learning networks differ from other networks? How does being connected influence how we develop our understanding of a subject? How can we utilize networks to improve quality of learning? How do social networks impact conceptual networks? and so on…

What Is Content Worth These Days?

Media_literacy_georgesiemens_content_worth_id30410071.jpg In early 2000’s, I was in a meeting with a group of senior academics, exploring knowledge management solutions for higher education (doesn’t that sound like fun?). One individual - a VP I believe - stood up and confidently stated “content is the most valuable thing colleges have. It’s our strategic advantage”. At the time the statement felt wrong, but I wasn’t sure why. Since then, blogs, wikipedia, podcasts, open educational resources, and numerous other developments have shown that content - while valuable for learning - has limited economic value. Encyclopedic Knowledge, Then vs. Now tracks Encarta and looks at how content as a value point has been eroded:
Early in the project’s history, a focus group of prospective customers was convened, and participants said they would happily pay $1,000 to $2,000 for a multimedia encyclopedia on CD-ROM.

New Realities in Higher Education

Media_literacy_georgesiemens_new_realities_id4500581.jpg Ray Schroeder is an active blogger that I have followed for about eight years. He covers a range of technology, pedagogy, and other trends on his numerous blogs. Last month, I started following a new blog by Ray: New Realities in Higher Education. The site is devoted to articles / news related to current challenges in higher education - particularly on economic impact. It’s a depressing read at times - consider proposed budget cuts in Florida - but it may cause administrators to recognize we are entering a new era where different rules apply. It’s time for higher education to make substantial changes.

New Technology Supporting Informal Learning

Media_literacy_georgesiemens_informal_learning_technologies.jpg On his Half an Hour blog, Stephen Downes explores new technology and informal learning (in a paper for an upcoming conference in Portugal). He makes a statement that is important for instructional designers to consider:
Learning networks capture an essential element in learning today, the simple fact that we don’t know what we want to teach.
The difficulty, of course, is that much of our current education model embodies the opposite view. Through curriculum boards, advisory committees, and government initiated programs, education is cast as a method to teach what we know to be important. What happens when we face complex problems that do not yet have an answer? We don’t have to look very far down the corridors of higher education. The classroom is a model that communicates what is known; the lab, in contrast, is a model that explores what is not yet known. Learning in complex environments (or where existing knowledge is applied in new contexts) requires the educational enterprise to adopt exploratory approaches. From the classroom to the lab…

Originally written by George Siemens for elearnspace and first published on May 8th 2009 in his newsletter eLearning Resources and News.

About the author George-Siemens.jpg To learn more about George Siemens and to access extensive information and resources on elearning check out Explore also George Siemens connectivism site for resources on the changing nature of learning and check out his new book "Knowing Knowledge".

Photo credits: Should Computer Scientists Make Social-Networking Research a Higher Priority? - Kwiqq What Is Content Worth These Days? - Kirill Kurashov New Realities in Higher Education - Ieva Geneviciene New Technology Supporting Informal Learning - Iconocast
Why Tracking External Links Can Help You Improve Website Traffic
Tracking and monitoring your incoming links can provide you with great and valuable insight into which sites, social media and other web traffic sources are sending you the best and most qualified visitors for your web site. But how do you go about analyzing those incoming links in an effective way? Which one of those traffic sources is better? Social media, search engines, organic links on other sites and blogs? tracking_external_links_help_improve_website_traffic_size485_b.jpg Photo credit: hypermania To evaluate the effective traffic potential of most of the typical web traffic sources, Pavel Israelsky, a young web publisher from Israel, has taken the time to systematically analyze the main traffic sources sending people to his site, including forums, blogs, web directories, instant messengers, social media sites and even emails. The goal for Israel was the one of understanding which one of these traffic sources brings in more traffic and consequently which should be the traffic source on which to spend the greatest amount of energies. Though these results do not represent general trends and data applicable to all types of sites or blogs, the story of how this analysis was setup and run can help those with less experience in tracking online data in getting a glimpse of how you can actually go about collecting such data and make that information help you understand better how and where to focus to increase your web traffic. Can you get relatively more traffic from Twitter or from your signature at the end of your emails? Here all the details:

The Great Traffic Experiment

tracking_external_links_help_improve_website_traffic_experiment.jpg by Pavel Israelsky
Who wouldn't want to increase the incoming traffic to his website by knowing which traffic source to focus on? How can we evaluate the potential of all traffic sources we use on a daily basis? With the recent development of social networking and the various media tools, the number of traffic sources has increased dramatically. As a result, tracking of traffic to our websites became a tougher task. For the last two months I've been conducting an experiment (quite secretive), intended to evaluate the potential of all the standard sources of traffic in the Internet, which I use regularly. Forums, blogs, social networks, web directories, instant messaging software applications, Twitter and even Gmail (patience, all will become clear shortly). It is true that there are quite a lot of great statistical applications supplying the goods, such as Google Analytics, but still, at the end of the day, me and many others go to sleep with many unanswered questions and wonders. Questions like:
  • How many got into my website through my Gmail signature?
  • How many clicked on the link in my blog in my Facebook profile?
  • Did anyone click the link of my website in my Skype status line?
  • Does anyone click on my URLs in articles talkbacks? Etc.

Preliminary Preparations: Mapping Sources and Setting Up Tracking Links

tracking_external_links_help_improve_website_traffic_map_sources_id13659501.jpg This kind of questions has always bothered me and I came to the conclusion that I just have to check it out. So I decided to conduct an experiment which includes the following steps:
  1. Map all the sources at which I am active,
  2. Group the sources (blogs, forums etc.),
  3. Create a designated link to count clicks for each group and lastly,
  4. pPace the designated link in any of the source sites (usually the link was "Websites Promotion Blog" and not the URL address).
For example: Facebook, TheMarker Caf? (popular social network in Israel) and LinkedIn are part of the "social networking" group, so I dedicated a designated link to these three sites. There are two reasons why I decided to track only the sources I use on a regular basis:
  1. In the other sources I do not have a profile so there are no outbound links to my blog.
  2. I wanted to evaluate the potential of the sources I use based on my browsing habits so I can learn how much energy I should invest in them (if at all).
In order to create tracking links I chose a URL shrinking service, which supplies me with detailed statistics of the number of clicks on any link I create through it. So I created an account in the popular service and began with creating designated inbound links for every traffic source group. Below you can find all the tracking links I created: You can check and see that each such URL leads to my blog's home page.

The Course of the Traffic Experiment: Dividing the Links into Groups and Collecting Data

So there are designated links, groups and sources - now all that is left to do is integrate them. Here is a reference to every group of sources including the final results based on readings made over a period of two months.

Group 1: Social Networks

Designated link:
Traffic sources (these links lead to my profile pages): Facebook, Linkedin, TheMarker Cafe
The position of the link in every source: In the three sources the link appears first and foremost in the profile page in the field "personal site". In addition, it appeared in my Facebook's SEO Group and my other SEO Group in LinkedIn.
Location in Facebook: tracking_external_links_help_improve_website_traffic_facebook.jpg
Location in LinkedIn: tracking_external_links_help_improve_website_traffic_linkedin.jpg
Location in TheMarker Caf? (it's under "expanded about page in my blog:"): tracking_external_links_help_improve_website_traffic_themarker_cafe.jpg
Conditions for exposure: The exposure to a link is directly dependent on the number of activities I do at each of the sites (If I am inactive no one will be exposed to it), number of friends, my involvement in the network and the number of searches leading to my profile. During the experiment, in order to maintain the objectivity of the results and to ensure they truly reflect the potential of each group, I did not act in an extraordinary way. The activities I did (which made people become exposed to the link) are:
  • Talkbacks in the relevant discussions,
  • adding new friends,
  • sending messages to existing friends,
  • uploading pictures and videos,
  • updating my status line and comment to my friends status changes,
  • joining communities and groups which interest me,
  • use of several social applications etc.
All the activities can be grouped under "Internet Personal Branding".
My social parameters in this channel (influencing on the level of exposure): Unfortunately I cannot measure the number of searches leading to my profile, or the number of activities I have done in each network. The only estimate is the number of friends in every network:
  • 605 friends in Facebook (217 friends in the SEO group in Facebook),
  • 190 in LinkedIn (11 friends in the SEO group in LinkedIn) and
  • 186 friends in TheMarker Caf?.

The overall number of participants coming from this group: 55

Group 2: Comments in Blogs

Designated link:
Traffic sources: I read a lot of blogs (Israeli and foreign) on a regular basis. The very partial list can be found at Websites Promotion Recommended Resources I have written before. Additional blogs I read can be found here, a collection of the world's top 25 most recommended blogs about SEO.
The link's location in each source: In the "Full name" field in the talkbacks themselves tracking_external_links_help_improve_website_traffic_blog_comment.jpg
Conditions for exposure: The people exposed to the comment link are the blog's editor and the other readers of the same post. The exposure is dependent on the number of comments I make and the number of readers exposed to those comments. In addition, it could be said there is a direct connection between the traffic of the blog in which I am commenting and the traffic I will get from the link inside the comment. Hence the recommendation to try to comment in those blogs popular in the area you are interested in.
My social parameters in this channel (influencing on the level of exposure): During the term of the experiment (2 months) I commented 40 times in about 20 different blogs.
The overall number of participants coming from this group: 46

Group 3: Discussion Groups and Forums

Designated link:
Traffic sources: K Forum (K Forum is an Israeli popular SEO forum), Tapuz SEO Community (Tapuz is a popular Israeli forum-based community), Commercial Internet Community (In TheMarker Caf?).
The link's location in each source: In the signature at the end of the comments. In some of them there is just an URL and not a clickable link so this source contributes less to the overall number of clicks of the designated link (people usually are too lazy to copy a link into their browser and prefer something clickable).
In K forum: tracking_external_links_help_improve_website_traffic_K_forum.jpg
In TheMarker Caf? forum: tracking_external_links_help_improve_website_traffic_themarker_cafe_forum.jpg
Conditions for exposure: Only those reading my comment in the body of the discussion were exposed to the link. In addition, the forum's reputation and popularity are important factors - the more popular it is, the more traffic goes through it and so there is a greater chance people will click on the link in the signature.
My social parameters in this channel (influencing on the level of exposure): In forum K I commented in 35 different threads (1-3 times in average per thread), in the commercial forum I reacted to 5 threads (1-3 times in average per thread) and in the Tapuz community I commented in one thread once.
The overall number of participants coming from this group: 79

Group 4: Instant Messages

Designated link:
Traffic sources: All the various instant messaging applications and services - ICQ, Skype, MSN messenger, Google Talk.
The link's location in each source: In each application there's that status line where you can write whatever you want, sort of "status". The link on Google Talk (the link looks pretty much the same in the other instant messaging applications): tracking_external_links_help_improve_website_traffic_gtalk.jpg
Conditions for exposure: The exposure depends on 2 factors: The number of people in my friends list with which I talk on a regular basis and the frequency of the correspondence. The more a person corresponds the longer the "stage time" of the link in the status line becomes (for the person with which we correspond at the moment). In addition, the more friends a person has on his friends list, the bigger is his link's exposure even if he is not corresponding at that minute (since when he is online all his friends see his status line).
My social parameters in this channel (influencing on the level of exposure): 126 friends on Google Talk and 53 on Skype (out of which 5% are inactive).
The overall number of participants coming from this group: 40

Group 5: E-Mail Service

Designated link:
Traffic sources: This item focuses only on the e-mail service I use - Gmail.
The link's location in each source: At the end of the e-mails I sent (in my signature). tracking_external_links_help_improve_website_traffic_email_signature.jpg
Conditions for exposure: In principle, every person who receives an e-mail from me should be exposed to the link. This, of course, depends on how long the e-mail is (who has the energy to scroll the whole way through?) and the size and color of the font of the signature (Gmail left me very little choice), but my basic assumption is that anyone who got an e-mail from me saw the link. The click on it depends on my relationship with that person, if we do not know one another there is a high chance this person will click and if we correspond on a regular basis, the chance is that he will not.
My social parameters in this channel (influencing on the level of exposure): In the last couple of months I have sent an average number of 11 e-mails per day and a total of 684 e-mails. Out of which, 45 e-mails were sent to new people (people I approached for the first time).
The overall number of participants coming from this group: 33

Group 6: Twitter

Designated link:
Traffic sources: Twitter. Not enough?
The link's location in each source: The bio field in the personal profile. tracking_external_links_help_improve_website_traffic_bio.jpg
Conditions for exposure: Twitter is a powerful tool deserving a post of its own and this is why I decided to create for it a category of its own. The exposure of your profile depends on the number of people following you, the number of tweets, the number of searches leading to your profile and the number of retweets you get. The rule valid here is very common to all social networks - the more popular you are, the more people will be exposed to your profile.
My social parameters in this channel (influencing on the level of exposure): 171 people following me and during the period of the experiment I sent only 16 tweets (because of the low number, it does not reflect the normal usage and the power you can extract out of the tool).
The overall number of participants coming from this group: 37

Here is a final concentration of the figures:
  • Social networks: 55
  • Blog comments: 64
  • Discussion groups and forums: 79
  • Instant messages: 40
  • E-mail service: 33
  • Twitter: 37

Results and Conclusions of the Experiment

tracking_external_links_help_improve_website_traffic_conclusions_id128879.jpg I have learned a lot from this experiment, both about me as a user and about the potential of external links from the different sources. In addition, a lot can be understood from the statistics about the users habits in every channel (where do people click more on links etc.). It is worth mentioning that these findings are subjective and depend on any person's habits. Nevertheless, a few insights would fit all.
Here are the experiment's findings (not in any order):
  1. Although I wasn't a hardcore user of Twitter (and it's a shame I wasn't), the number of hits I got from there is more than those coming from e-mails.
  2. Homework to myself (urgent): "Start investing in Twitter!"
  3. Second chore for homework (less urgent): "Start commenting in popular blogs!"
  4. The forums yielded the most entries and the least came from the e-mails.
  5. At the beginning I created designated links that did not include my blog name in the URL, but they hardly got clicked upon. During the experiment I did decide to include my blog name, because it gives the reader a hint where the link leads to.
  6. Although I send a lot of e-mails, relatively very few people clicked on the link in the signature.
  7. Although I am pretty active user in social networks and do not tend to comment a lot in blogs, I got more entries from the blog comments.

What are your favorite traffic sources? So I conducted an experiment and I learned a lot about the traffic I get into my blog, but that only reflects my case. What about you? What are your favorite sources? Where do you think it would be worthwhile to invest your time to attract maximum visitors?

This post was translated from Hebrew using OneHourTranslation Translation Service.

Originally written by Pavel Israelsky for MasterNewMedia and first published on May 6th, 2009 as "Why Tracking External Links Can Help You Improve Website Traffic".

About the author pavelisraelsky_thumbnail.jpg Pavel Israelsky (follow him on Twitter: @askpavel) is an Israeli Search-Engine-Optimization (SEO) consultant and blogger. He is writing in Hebrew about SEO techniques in his blog AskPavel.

Photo credits: Preliminary Preparations: Mapping Sources and Setting Up Tracking Links - Helder Almeida Group 1: Social Networks - Eric Issel?e Group 2: Comments in Blogs - Khaled Benseguenia Group 3: Discussion Groups and Forums - zzzzz Group 4: Instant Messages - Konstantinos Kokkinis Group 5: E-Mail Service - juliengron Group 6: Twitter - mipan Results and Conclusions of the Experiment - artzone
Best Embeddable Online Video Widgets And Playlist Creators - Mini-Guide
Video playlists are a simple but effective way for web publishers to create extra content that has much greater value than a single clip. By aggregating, picking and selecting a compilation of videos on a certain topic or subject, you can offer something unique and special which may get you greater credibility, authority, traffic and even money. Online_video_publishing_best_embeddable_widgets_playlist_creator_robingood_size350.jpg Embeddable video playlist creators make it easy for you as a web publisher to provide additional value, to monetize your extra video assets, and to engage your audience with fresh, niche- targeted content. If you want to find out which are the best tools to create your own embeddable video compilations and playlists, I have prepared for you a list of the best embeddable widgets and video playlist editors complemented by a comparative feature table. The key advantages of creating niche-targeted embeddable video playlists are threefold:
  1. Viewers can find related content quickly and easily without having to search for themselves. Making money on the Internet is not only about producing content, but scouting and organizing the material your audience is looking for. By putting in the time, you can provide this service and boost your web traffic without ever recording a single video of your own.
  2. You can gather your own videos either by thematic relevance, or as part of a series.
  3. If you have a longer video, it makes a lot of sense to break it down into several shorter clips, each with a clear title, so that viewers can easily skip to the chunk of your clip that most interest them.
Either way, you have cut out some of the search and navigation work required of your potential audience. The ability to select and bring together related videos is a skill in and of itself, and people will thank you for taking the time. Here my selected tools map and comparative table to help you select the embeddable video playlist generator that may best fit your needs:
  • Sources: supported sites where you can grab video content
  • Player customization: personalization options of the embedded video player
  • Direct video uploads: direct upload from computer, webcam, camcorder or other video sources
  • Social media integration: redistribution and sharing of video playlists on social networks
  • Advertising: ads displayed inside widget on free version
  • Premium features: key advanced features offered in pro / paid accounts
  • Pro-starting price: first price level to access extended features
Here all the details:

Best Embeddable Widgets And Playlist Creators Comparison Table

Best Embeddable Widgets And Playlist Creators

  1. Mogulus

    Video producers can use the Mogulus browser-based application to create video playlists to broadcast through a single player widget. Moguls widget can be embedded on any web site. Video clips can be either uploaded directly from your computer or they can be selected from video clips already available on YouTube. Mogulus comes in two flavors: In the Free version you get an ad-supported, fully customizable player that also sports an integrated viewer chat. With Pro version the video player is even more customizable, allowing you to remove all Mogulus logos, create private distribution channels, and choose among different video formats (4:3, 16:9 or 2.39:1) to display your videos. Pro version starts from $350/month.

  2. SplashCast

    SplashCast enables anyone to create streaming media channels that mix video, music, photos, text and RSS feeds. User-generated channels can be embedded and syndicated on any web site, blog, or social network page. If you want to create a video playlist, you can directly upload your own clips, record from your webcam, or grab an existing YouTube video. SplashCast players are ads-free. The service has not charged users since its debut in 2007, but a few months ago the guys at SplashCast have decided to discontinue the free service and are currently working to offer a monthly subscription-based plan.

  3. CozmoTV

    CozmoTV is a widget-based video syndication network where users can create customized video playlists aggregating video content from the Web. Video playlists can be freely shared and redistributed on web sites or social networks. Videos can be grabbed from YouTube, or from your preferred content delivery network (a network of computers connected through the internet that serve content), but not directly uploaded from your computer. CozmoTV widgets can also integrate ads and help publishers generate more revenues while providing audience-targeted content. Widgets can be customized by choosing their appearance, the sequence of video clips and how the ads will appear inside the video stream. CozmoTV is free to use, but requires registration.

  4. ClipSyndicate

    ClipSyndicate is an online video syndication platform that can be used to organize a collection of video clips into audience-targeted playlists. Users can browse the existing ClipSyndicate video archive or utilize their own video content, live TV streams or podcasts. Video channels can then be embedded on any web site using Flash or JavaScript players. Each channel is available for syndication through RSS. Publishers can also use ClipSyndicate to generate new revenues out of their video assets by using banner advertising. Ad revenues are shared among publishers, content providers, and ClipSyndicate. Free, but registration needed.

  5. Embedr

    Embedr is a free service that lets anyone create a custom playlist of videos using almost any video-sharing site of the web. Users can browse YouTube, MySpace, Vimeo, and others (here the complete list) to add their preferred video clips or just make a quick search from Embedr built-in search engine to build playlists automatically. The service does not accept direct video uploads. Embedr widget player is ad-free and can be personalized with title, tags, and descriptions both for the playlist and each one of the individual videos. The player can also be customized in different colors and video formats (4:3 and 16:9). Registration is not necessary, but allows users to save their playlist for further modifications.

  6. Jamzee

    Jamzee is a service that creates playlists made up of YouTube videos to share on web sites, blogs or social networks. Direct uploads are not permitted. Building a video playlist is as easy as searching for your favorite videos using the built-in search engine and ordering them. Video playlists are not customizable, nor redistributable once embedded in a Flash-based widget. Jamzee does not support ads, but since YouTube allows advertisements inside videos, playlist might show ads as well. Jamzee is completely free to use, but registration is mandatory.

  7. allows users to gather relevant videos and build a custom free video channel. Videos can be collected on the web or uploaded directly, even from webcams. Video channels can be embedded and redistributed on any web site or social network using a dedicated player or different types of widgets. Video playlists can be extensively customized by editing their size, colours, thumbnails, tags, and other options. allows publishers to serve ad-supported content and generate new revenues from the monetization of their existing video assets. Pro version starts from $249/month and supports integration with Google AdSense, custom watermarks to brand playlists, and many other further customization possibilities.

  8. Vodpod

    Vodpod is a free web-based service to gather video clips on the Web and organize them in video playlist that can be embedded on any web site or social network. Direct upload is not supported for the time being. To add videos to playlists users can use the built-in search engine on Vodpod homepage, or use a dedicated button that can be easily installed inside the browser. Videos can be ordered in a sequence and distributed via a large set of widgets, Twitter or a customized player. All Vodpod playlists are ads-free. The service also allows you to choose between a standard 4:3 or a wide 16:9 video player, which is the perfect choice to display HD videos. Registration is necessary to use Vodpod.

  9. YouTube Reloaded

    YouTube Reloaded is a free service that collects videos from YouTube and organizes them in playlists that can be embedded on any web site or social network. Creating a video playlist is a matter of minutes. Users just have to choose a set of keywords that will be used to perform a search inside YouTube, the size of the player, some limited options to customize the appearance of the embeddable player, and whether the playlist will start without user input. Videos cannot be manually arranged in a sequence (there is a generic "shuffle" option) and, once embedded, the ad-free player is not redistributable. No registration is required to use YouTube Reloaded.

  10. enables users to generate YouTube-based video playlists that can be embedded anywhere on the web using a Flash player. Playlists can be based on search terms, favorites from a particular user, or related videos. Just like YouTube Reloaded, very few customization possibilities are available (the only difference with is you can decide the position of the playlist - above or beneath the video), and the generated player does not support advertisements, nor cannot be redistributed. is free and does not require any registration.

  11. Muzu TV

    Users who want to build a music video playlist might want to check out Muzu TV. This video platform has a large archive of music videos, documentaries, TV shows, interviews, behind the scenes, tutorials and rare footage that registered users can freely remix and organize in playlists to embed on web sites, blogs, or social networks. Users cannot upload their own videos to the service. Every player is freely redistributable and customizable, but not ads-free. Videos can be watched in high quality and commented by registered users for a more engaging watching experience. Muzu TV is free to use.

  12. BricaBox

    BricaBox allows registered users to gather videos in niche-oriented playlists that can be embedded on web sites and social networks. Direct upload is not supported. Unlike other competitors BricaBox does not use a widget or a Flash-based player to aggregate videos, but rather puts together videos on a standard web page, each one embedded in its own player. Playlists are syndicated via RSS and support advertisement. BricaBox is free to use but requires registration. Even BricaBox shut down in the summer of 2008, the service is still available to use however you won't get any official support or have extra features added.

  13. YouTube Custom Playlist

    Users who want to stick to YouTube to create and distribute their video playlists, can use the built-in free playlist generator. All you need is a YouTube or Google account. Users can explore YouTube video archive or upload their own clips from their own computer and webcam. YouTube playlists are completely redistributable inside any web site, blog, or social network. Video playlists are ad-supported, and take advantage of all YouTube features: high-quality, HD uploads, comments, ratings, and more. Players can be customized choosing their colour, size, or adding a title and a description.

Originally prepared by Robin Good and Daniele Bazzano for MasterNewMedia, and first published on May 4th, 2009 as "Best Embeddable Online Video Widgets And Playlist Creators - Mini-Guide".
Media Literacy: Making Sense Of New Technologies And Media by George Siemens - May 2 09
What is Media Literacy? Media literacy is the ability to bring critical thinking skills and about asking pertinent questions about what's there, and noticing what's not there. And it's the instinct to question what lies behind media productions - the motives, the money, the values and the ownership— and to be aware of how these factors influence content. In our world of multi-tasking, commercialism, globalization and interactivity, media literacy isn't about having the right answers - it's about asking the right questions. (Source: Jane Tallim)
Media_literacy_george_siemens_2944344724_d7fe181c16_2.jpg Photo credit: lumingopereira Inside this Media Literacy Digest:
  • Community Information Hubs - Finding relevant information about a local community is challenging in a sea of global information.
  • How Social Media Is Changing College Admission - Instead of marketing to 100,000 students at once (mainstream media model) they now focus on connecting to groups of 10-20.
  • Visualization and Search - Searching and finding useful information really shouldn’t be as difficult as it is today.
  • Technology as Philosophy - Technology is a philosophy and we MUST understand what it embodies, discuss its future impact, and explore what we are becoming.
  • LearnTrends - Jay Cross hosted a 24-hour learn-a-thon this week.
  • Pay Attention! - ...attention is a skill that must be learned, shaped, practiced; this skill must evolve if we are to evolve.
  • Rough Week for Higher Education - Established institutions like higher education are increasingly targeted as bloated, inefficient, and thoroughly corrupt.
If you are into understanding how technology improvements are shaping new and different paradigms in the way we conceive and experience education, this weekly digest provides you a good set of pointers, facts and resources to make sense of the challenges that awaits our society in a not-so-distant future. Here all the details:

eLearning Resources and News

learning, networks, knowledge, technology, trends by George Siemens

Analysis of Emerging Trends Affecting the Use of Technology in Education

Media_literacy_georgesiemens_emerging_trends_technology_education_id37876891.jpg Becta has published a new report Analysis of emerging trends affecting the use of technology in education. The report does not contain anything significantly new, but provides a good overview of current trends in information technology (in particular, multimedia habits, mobile technologies, parental encouragement of educational use of tools, and growth of TV on demand). Growing awareness of trends impacting education is important. More attention is being paid to trends today than was only a few years ago (Horizon Report was an early initiative in trend analysis). We are now getting to the point where trends analysis needs to lead to the creation of future scenarios. Developing a futures thinking mindset would serve educators well (the future is about future thinking?).

Community Information Hubs

Media_literacy_georgesiemens_hub_information_id38427411_b.jpg Finding relevant information about a local community is challenging in a sea of global information. I subscribe to several local blogs, news sites, and related information. In networks, local information teeters on the brink of generating global conversation. All it takes is one unique conversation, violation of rights, a novel happening and suddenly global attention floods local scenes (high attention status is fleeting, however, and disappears as soon as the next novelty attracts the attention of online participants). In spite of following local information sources, I do find that I miss much of the mundane local conversation (gossip?). Given the global decline of newspapers, what can we expect from community hubs? MediaShift suggests:
There’s no shortage of quality information. The issue is recognizing the type of information that people need expanded access to and finding a trustworthy mechanism for delivering it.
A list of suggestions for information hubs then follows. All of which could be achieved through distributed means... and none of which require a central site. It’s here that I’m finding some personal dissatisfaction with information interaction. The notion of object-centered sociability suggests that it is objects that lead to socialization. I would like to turn it around and offer the view that online and community conversations are socially-centered information artifacts. They do not exist prior to the conversation and interaction. Information, in a socially centered view, is a by product of learning that emerges through socialization, rather than an artifact that centers socialization.

How Social Media Is Changing College Admission

Media_literacy_georgesiemens_University_Manitoba_Facebook.jpg Media and advertising are obviously intertwined. Attention draws marketing schemes. There is value in watching how the PR industry has moved from centralized controlled messages in mainstream media to decentralized messages on blogs, Twitter, Facebook, and other social media. College and university admissions are also taking note. At University of Manitoba, for example, our PR department is actively involved with: News blogs, Twitter, Facebook, podcasts, and other tools. And they subscribe to Google alerts on “University of Manitoba” (which is how they will find out about this post... I was recently interviewed by our student newspaper on Facebook and our handbook of emerging technologies because the editor discovered references on Google Alerts. It does make me wonder about how effectively our organizations are designed to handle and understand information flows when external tools do a better job of connecting people on a campus than internal tools and procedures). The intent with PR and marketing to connect with prospective students in various forums and various tools. Instead of marketing to 100,000 students at once (mainstream media model) they now focus on connecting to groups of 10-20. How social media is changing college admission (.pdf) demonstrates the significant use of blogs, wikis, social networking services, and other tool by universities / colleges. In most categories use is significantly higher than by Fortune and Inc. 500 companies. The discussion on how admissions departments use social networking and web search (p12) as part of the admissions process is interesting... and something that younger learners need to be aware of. (via Academica Group). UPDATE: For some reason, the paper has now been moved. Member only access…

Visualization and Search

Media_literacy_georgesiemens_visual_search_oskope.jpg Searching and finding useful information really shouldn’t be as difficult as it is today. When Google first appeared, it introduced new expectations of search. Instead of categorical Yahoo Search or only marginally effective Lycos search results, users now expected fast and relevant responses to queries. And so things have stayed. I’m sure Google has been very aggressive in improving search results behind the scenes, but my experience of searching is almost identical to what it was in early 2000. Search innovation has been limited. This is partly due to the sheer complexity of language and matching results to sometimes undeclared intentions. While Berners Lee appears on the scene occasionally to declare the need for the semantic web, he soon fades and for most of us, search continues as it was. When Google purchased Trendalyzer, there was an expectation that search would now become more visual - providing not just the results, but an indication of patterns, trends, and related factors. Not much has happened since then. At least, not much that I’ve experienced in my search habits. WolframAlpha is now receiving attention (though it hasn’t launched) as a tool to assist in making sense of complex data. And Google has revived lagging search innovation by adding public data to its results (only American states / counties to date). Other novel declarations of new search engines (cuil and a9 come to mind) haven’t made much of an impact. Perhaps Google has attained Microsoft status: finding it difficult to innovate and having grown so prominent that those who are innovating are unable to compete.

Technology as Philosophy

Media_literacy_georgesiemens_technology_philosphy_id650653.jpg Technology is not neutral. We don’t apply it to our teaching in a “plug in and use” approach. Technology is philosophy. Tools embed views and influence action. Google permits access to information (when not blocked). Blogs and wikis permit openness and information sharing. It’s not much of a surprise then that we see the creators and advocates of emerging technologies to desire to exert their influence into traditional establishments and problems. I’m starting to see the field of technology as a quasi-religious system based on assumptions of progress, constant change, individualism, distrust/disdain for established structures of society, and hope for an every expanding brighter future. As any system of this nature, the will to power is strong. The desire to re-create society on the premise that drives the technology field forward is natural. In Iraq with Web 2.0 Luminaries:
The idea is to use the brains of this small collective to give ideas to Iraqi government officials, companies and users that will help it rebuild. Iraq is short on the mojo that widespread internet can bring and the fast-track economic jolt that entrepreneurs feed on. Who knows that stuff better than a contingent of internet goombahs heavy on the Google juice and includes the guy who thought up Twitter?
When stories like this appear, it should cause educators to stop spouting silly things like “technology is neutral”. Technology is a philosophy and we MUST understand what it embodies, discuss its future impact, and explore what we are becoming.


Media_literacy_georgesiemens_Jay_Cross_learntrends.jpg Jay Cross hosted a 24-hour learn-a-thon this week. Any experimentation with teaching and learning that challenges assumptions of courses and conferences is intriguing. Jay reflects on the event:
Our goal was honest dialog among as many members as possible. No commercials. No presentations. Few or no slides. Often, we threw three or four great people into an online fishbowl and let the conversation go where it would.

Pay Attention!

Media_literacy_georgesiemens_pay_attention_id16913821.jpg How do you handle students / colleagues who are actively handling email, twittering, facebooking, and whatever-else-ing while you are conducting a class or attending a meeting? Some educators adopt a “it’s the student’s choice” attitude, while others require learners to be present. Howard Rheingold posits attention as a form of literacy:
I want my students to learn that attention is a skill that must be learned, shaped, practiced; this skill must evolve if we are to evolve. The technological extension of our minds and brains by chips and nets has granted great power to billions of people, but even in the early years of always-on, it is clear to even technology enthusiasts like me that this power will certainly mislead, mesmerize and distract those who haven’t learned - were never taught - how to exert some degree of mental control over our use of laptop, handheld, earbudded media.
Related: PR 2.0 tackles attention from the perspective of the consumer, suggesting advertisers / organizations follow the eyeballs and “compete for attention where and when it’s captivated.

Rough Week for Higher Education

Media_literacy_georgesiemens_university_week_id700403.jpg General Motors is now the new standard insult to organizations that need to innovate, but don’t. Established institutions like higher education are increasingly targeted as bloated, inefficient, and “thoroughly corrupt”. Harsh. Ivory Tower: Crumbling from Within quotes a presentation by Jeff Sandefer (who is highly biased as the founder of an business school to counter traditional universities): “the bureaucratic “pedagogy of arrogance” may soon collapse, much like the General Motors and even the former Soviet Union” (insert joke here about how effective business schools were at preventing economic collapse in late 2008). We then hear of David Wiley (slightly misquoted) declaring universities will be irrelevant by 2020. Each era of history creates its knowledge institutions to reflect how information (in that era) is created, disseminated, shared, and re-created. History has given us libraries, monasteries, universities, and research labs. What does the future hold for knowledge institutions when the information cycle is under the control of individuals and amateurs? I don’t agree fully with the harsh assessment in the articles linked above - universities appear to be awakening to the changed reality - but our current challenge is that we have no alternative to move toward. We know what we don’t want universities to be. We don’t yet have thought leadership on what they should become.

Originally written by George Siemens for elearnspace and first published on May 1st 2009 in his newsletter eLearning Resources and News.

About the author George-Siemens.jpg To learn more about George Siemens and to access extensive information and resources on elearning check out Explore also George Siemens connectivism site for resources on the changing nature of learning and check out his new book "Knowing Knowledge".

Photo credits: Analysis of Emerging Trends Affecting the Use of Technology in Education - vacuum3d Community Information Hubs - Tatiana53 Technology as Philosophy - Anatoly Tiplyashin Pay Attention! - Dmitriy Shironosov Rough Week for Higher Education - Ana Blazic
Beyond Ads: Guide To Alternative Online Business And Monetization Models
As the traditional advertising revenue stream keeps its downtrend slope for many a web publisher, what are the alternative online business and revenue making models that independent online publishers can leverage to increase their overall income and profitability? great_alternative_online_business_models-monetize_goods_beyond_ads_size485.jpg Beyond traditional banner ads, skyscrapers and Google AdSense strips, there is indeed a universe of alternative monetization opportunities that allows most online content publishers out there to increase, extend and diversify their range of revenue making channels in more ways than one would ever think. As I am myself working at diversifying MasterNewMedia own online revenue streams, I have spent some time researching and trying to identify which are the actual alternatives to the popular advertising revenue strategies most use, and which are the characteristics and traits that differentiate such alternative monetization models from each other. Unexpectedly, I have found much more than I was looking for. There are over 25 different ways to create new profit online open to just about any entrepreneur or independent web publisher out there. To understand and be aware of them is a responsibility that no serious web publisher can escape. But as I am not an economics professor nor an expert, my identification, labeling and grouping of all these online business and monetization models may be neither exhaustive nor perfect for everyone. But it is a starting point that reflects my own view on what is out there. In fact it would a fantastic thing, if you did actually add or provide extra information, comments, examples and ideas to my rough initial work. That's what I would like. To do so you can use the comments section at the end of this article or join me, later on today, for a live webinar on alternative online business models. In the webinar (you can register here if interested) I will share and provide free access to all participants to a unique editable mindmap of all online business models and monetization alternatives I have created. Here is what amounts to a base starting list of online monetization options, that I have separated between traditional advertising options and other monetization strategies. I'd love you to help me make it better.

Alternatives to Advertising-Based Online Business and Monetization Models

Online Advertising-Based Business and Monetization Models

Learn First-Hand and Access The Open Business Models MindMap

Today, April 30th 2009 at 12noon (NY time) - 6pm (Paris), I am hosting a live interactive webinar about this very topic, in which I will share with participants access to my comprehensive map of all alternative "Online Business Models". If you would like to ask question firsthand, access and download the map, or participate in the editing and extra contributions to it (you can even get a link back to your blog or site from within the map itself), please sign-up here:

Find More About Online Business Models

Originally written by Robin Good and Daniele Bazzano for MasterNewMedia and first published on April 29th, 2009 as "Beyond Ads: Guide To Alternative Online Business And Monetization Models".
Europe Under Internet Censorship Threat: New EU Telecom Package Challenges Basic Internet Freedoms

If you are an Internet user and are concerned about future control and regulation of your ability to freely access your preferred content and services online, no matter where you live it is now the time for you to stop and understand what the European Parliament is about to pass in the coming days unless you and I do something about it.

Photo credit: graffoto

On May 5th in fact, the EU Parliament will vote a package of new regulations (the so-called "Telecom Package") which may free European Internet providers to decide which content, services and applications European users can access and use.

The Telecom Package will force users to choose among pre-packaged options of accessibility. Internet providers will tell you WHERE to go and WHAT to use online, dismantling instantly the essence of the Web as you know it today.

In this article you can find out details about the Telecom Package being reviewed, what its consequences could be, and what action you can take now to prevent this from happening.

If you care about the Internet and about the amazing opportunity that offers to each one of us, I warmly invite you to read closely this report and to evaluate by yourself how to best act to stop this Telecom Package from becoming official law.

Here all the details:

Voting In EU Parliament 5th Of May 2009


by Blackout Europe Team

Internet access is not conditional.

Everyone who owns a website has an interest in defending the free use of Internet… so has everyone who uses Google or Skype… everyone who expresses their opinions freely, does research of any kind, whether for personal health problems or academic study … everyone who shops online…who dates online…socializes online… listens to music…watches video…

1. What They Want to Enforce. The Telecoms Package


The internet as we know it is at risk because of proposed new EU rules (the Telecoms package) are being discussed now at 2nd reading in the Parliament stage.

Under the proposed new rules, broadband providers will be legally able to limit the number of websites you can look at, and to tell you whether or not you are allowed to use particular services. It will be dressed up as ‘new consumer options’ which people can choose from.

People will be offered TV-like packages - with a limited number of options for you to access.

It means that the Internet will be packaged up and your ability to access and to put up content could be severely restricted. It will create boxes of Internet accessibility, which don’t fit with the way we use it today.

This is because internet is now permitting exchanges between persons which cannot be controlled or “facilitated” by any middlemen (the state or a corporation). This possibility improves citizen’s life but force the industry to lose power and control.

Access providers have now learned that controlling access they can control the information society development.That is why they are pushing to act those changes.

The excuse is to promote competition, offering choices to users which fit better their behavior on the Internet and, by collaborating with sectors interested in the promotion of lawful content (aka the entertainment industry), to control the flow of music, films and entertainment content against the alleged piracy by downloading for free, using P2P file-sharing. However, the real victims of this plan will be all Internet users and the democratic and independent access to information, culture goods...

2. Consequences for All of Us

Think about how you use the Internet! What would it mean to you if free access to the Internet was taken away?

These days, the Internet is about life and freedom. It’s about shopping, booking theater tickets... holidays, learning, job-seeking, banking, and trade. It’s also about the fun things - dating, chatting, invitations, music, entertainment, joking and even a Second Life. It is a tool to express ourselves, to collaborate, innovate, share, stimulate new business ideas, reach new markets - thrive without middlemen...

Listen to one of the fathers of the World Wide Web talking about network discrimination and how it could affect to the openness of the Internet.

He talks about the USA… but in Europe the same can happen if the Telecoms Package passes as it is now.

Just think - what’s your web address? Unless people have that address in their “package” of regular websites - they won’t be able to find you. That means they can’t buy, or book, or register, or even view you online. Your business won’t be able to find niche suppliers of goods - and compare prices. If you get any money at all from advertising on your site, it will diminish.

Yes, Amazon and a select few will be OK, they will be the included in the package. But your advertising on Google or any other website, will be increasingly worthless.

Skype could be blocked. (As it is in Germany in the use from iPhone, already). Small businesses could literally disappear, especially specialist, niche or artisan businesses.

If we don’t do something now - we could lose free and open use of the internet. Our freedom (of choice in information, market, culture, pleasure) will be curtailed.

3. The Value of Our Opinions and Our Votes


Tell the European Parliament to vote against conditional access to the Internet!

Remind them that they need your vote in June and that the Internet still give us the tools to be watching and judging what they are doing!

You must know you are not alone: hundreds of organizations are working on that and thousands of people have already contacted their parliamentarians about that.

In scambioetico website you can also find some letters responding.

4. What Our Politicians Want to Pass


The EU proposals hold an enormous risk for our future. They are about to become Law - and will be virtually impossible to reverse.

People (even the members of the European Parliament who are voting on it) don’t really seem to understand the full implications and the legal changes are wrapped up in something called “Telecoms Package” which lulls people into thinking it is just about industry. However, in reality, hiding from public view, the amendments are about the way the Internet will operate in future.

Text about your rights to access and distribute content, services and applications, is being crossed out. And the text that is being brought in, says that broadband providers must inform you of any limitations, or restrictions to your access.

Alternative versions use the word ‘conditions’ - and it is seriously being proposed that you will be told the conditions of use of Internet services. This is made to sound good - it is dressed up as ‘transparency’ - except that of course it means that the broadband provider will have the legal right to limit your access or to impose conditions, otherwise why would they need to tell you?

If the Telecoms Package as it reads now is voted in, the changes will not be reversible.

5. How We Will Respond


We all have a stake in the Internet! You need to act now to save it!

  • Ask to your leaders and representatives’ in the European Parliament to support a free and open Internet, where restrictions and limitations are only decided by a judicial ruling and monitoring is forbidden.
  • Demand that Internet access providers will be required to offer a service open and without discriminations.
  • Promoting growth and competition of the European economy should not be detrimental for citizen’s rights and the democratic participation.
  • A fair welfare will not be reached if Internet does not stand free and open.

6. How to Do It (Tools)


Click here to find a technical explanation by Monica Horten, article by article, so you can check with your own eyes what it is going on.

The open coalition has also sent a number of letters to the European Parliamentarians (MEPs) with an explanation of the controversial articles.

As suggested by La Quadrature, you can:

  1. Email, write to or phone your MEP - Follow the link to their website. to get the details.
    • You can use this letter as a model if you want
    • You are welcome to personalise the letter and include information that will make MEPs sit up, take note and take appropriate action. (Please do not be aggressive as they will not listen to you).

  2. In this link you will be able to send these recommendations directly to all the Parliamentarians, (hacktivistas) Believe, they will really receive it and they will really feel the pressure.

  3. Join this Facebook group

  4. Send this page to everyone you know so that they can take action

  5. Syndicate this page so that you keep been informed: disinformation is what they count on, we must be aware

Related Resources:

Originally written by the Blackout Europe Team and first published on April 20th, 2009 as "URGENT – VOTING IN EU PARLIAMENT 5th of MAY 2009".

Photo credits:
Voting In EU Parliament 5th Of May 2009 - mipan
What They Want to Enforce. The Telecoms Package - Ruslan Gilmanshin
The Value of Our Opinions and Our Votes - James Steidl
What Our Politicians Want to Pass - kmitu
How We Will Respond - Konstantinos Kokkinis
How to Do It (Tools) - Yanik Chauvin

Online Video Ad Formats: IAB Guidelines And Metrics To Monetize Online Videos
The online video advertising market seems to show no decline despite the economic crisis. The last report from LiveRail shows that average CPMs keeps growing bravely, and internet video consumption has been experiencing a massive growth of 40% and more. online_video_advertising_in-stream_formats_size485.jpg Since this trend has kept growing almost unstoppably since 2005, there's no sign it will ease off pretty soon. That's why it is so important that you keep up with both technical and creative aspects of online videos, and the new entrants in this filed are those in-stream ads you can see on the big video platforms like YouTube or Hulu. If you want to get a comprehensive overview of the opportunities to monetize your existing video archive or your upcoming daily video production, the International Advertising Bureau has put together an official set of guidelines and metrics to make sense of the emergent set of standard in-stream video ad formats. Here the IAB Online Video Ad Formats guidelines:

Digital Video In-Stream Ad Format Guidelines and Best Practices

online_video_advertising_in-stream_formats_youtube.jpg by Internet Advertising Bureau Digital Video Committee In order to simplify the digital video advertising buying and selling process, the Digital Video Committee of the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) has developed these guidelines and best practices for the most common current in-stream ad formats, including:
  • Linear video ads
  • Non-linear video ads
  • Companion ads
These recommendations have been constructed for these ad formats in order to meet the following marketplace needs:
  • More efficient operations through a common set of creative submission guidelines
  • More efficient development of ads and players through minimum common creative guidelines, including click functionality and duration definitions
  • Easier digital video ad buying across multiple sites through minimum common ad sizes for overlay and companion ads
  • Better consumer understanding of ad interactions and environments through best practice recommendations for creative development and player environments
There are three types of recommendations contained in this document for each ad format:
  • Ad Format guidelines
  • Common creative submission recommendations
  • Additional best practices
Publishers will be able to self-attest to the IAB for a compliance seal by adhering to these Ad Format Guidelines. All other recommendations in this document should be considered best practices and should strongly be considered for adoption, but are not necessary for compliance. It is also important to note that this document has certain scope boundaries:
  • This document supersedes the 2005 Broadband Ad Creative Guidelines; the original 2005 document is now obsolete
  • Measurement of impressions or other metrics is not addressed in this document
  • Although many of these formats can apply to full-screen and live experiences, this document does not specifically address those environments because of the high level of customization between publishers. The IAB encourages, where possible, that these guidelines be used in those situations.
While this document’s purpose is to develop more standardization in the most common areas of the digital video landscape, the IAB continues to encourage creativity and innovation in video ad formats. As with all IAB guidelines, this document will be updated as the dynamic digital video advertising landscape progresses and new ad formats become more widely adopted.

Video Formats

Click above to open the full image In November 2005, the IAB Broadband Committee (now the Digital Video Committee) released creative guidelines for online video commercials to further enhance the user experience and improve the efficiency of planning, buying, and creating online media without constraining creative opportunities for marketers. Since 2005, both the experiences and consumption of video content have evolved significantly and newer video ad formats have been introduced to compliment these emerging types of video experiences and environments. This document is meant to build upon those guidelines by offering more detail on both the creative and technical aspects of video player and ad development. Currently the most common digital video ad experiences are either viewed within or around “in-stream”, “in-banner” or “in-text” video formats.
  • In-Stream Video is generally played or viewed from a video player.
  • In-Banner Video is generally displayed in IAB standard ad units.
  • In-Text Video is generally user-initiated and triggered by relevant highlighted words within content.
This document delivers standards and best practices around in-stream ad products only.

In-Stream Video Advertising

online_video_advertising_in-stream_formats_guidelines.jpg There are two core video ad format categories in today’s in-stream ad experiences. These are, “Linear Video” ads and “Non-linear Video” ads:
  • Linear Video ad: The ad is presented before, in the middle of, or after the video content is consumed by the user, in very much the same way a TV commercial can play before, during or after the chosen program. One of the key characteristics of a linear video ad is that the user watches the ad in addition to the content as the ad takes over the full view of the video. Common linear video ad formats include pre-rolls, interactive takeovers, and short bumper vignettes that appear prior to the video content stream.

  • Non-linear Video ad: The ad runs concurrently with the video content so the users see the ad while viewing the content. Non-linear video ads can be delivered as text, graphical ads, or as video overlays. Common non-linear video ad formats include:
    • Overlays which are shown directly over the content video itself. Note that an overlay ad can also be delivered over a linear ad experience as well, generally prompting the user to interact with the ad when the user mouses over the ad.
    • Product placements which are ads placed within the video content itself.

Both linear and non-linear video ad formats have the option of being paired with what is commonly referred to as a “Companion Ad”.
  • Companion Ads: Commonly text, display ads, rich media, or skins that wrap around the video experience. These ads come in a number of sizes and shapes and typically run alongside or surrounding the video player. The primary purpose of the companion ad is to offer sustained visibility of the sponsor throughout the video experience. Companion ads may offer click-through interactivity and rich media experiences, such as expansion of the ad, for further engagement opportunities.

The following sections detail the ad format guidelines, recommended submission guidelines, and best practices for the following in-stream video ad formats:
  • Linear Video Ad with or without Companion Ads
  • Linear Video Interactive Ad
  • Non-Linear Overlay Ad
  • Non-Linear Non-Overlay Invitation Ad

This document was written to address the informational needs of advertising agencies, advertisers, vendors and publishers.

Linear Video Ad Formats

Linear Video Ad With or Without Companion Ad


User Experience Description

A time-limited video advertisement that can be shown before, in the middle of, or after the user sees the content in the video player. A clickable companion ad is typically run adjacent to the player content window.

Linear Video Ad Format Guidelines

  • Insertion point: Can be placed pre-roll, mid-roll or post-roll.

  • Maximum ad display duration: 30 seconds or 15 seconds max. Ads may be less than but not exceed these maximum durations.

  • Click Event: Both the video window and companion ad may be clickable with links to advertiser site

  • Controls:
    • Since ads are displayed when a user opts-in to view content, it is recommended that all linear video ads be host-initiated
    • Minimum player controls present should be Start/Stop and Volume On / Off / Softer / Louder. Other recommended and acceptable buttons include Fast Forward / Rewind, Pause, Zoom and other Interactive buttons as needed. All buttons should be enabled throughout the video ad play, with the exception of Fast Forward.

  • Companion ad sizes: If a publisher offers companion ads as part of a linear video ad product, as per the “companion ad” section of this document at least one of the following companion ad sizes should be accepted:
    • 300x250
    • 300x100
    • 468x60
    • 728x90
    • 300x60

It is important to note that this is a minimum consideration set and that other ad sizes may also be offered by a publisher in addition to at least one of the listed sizes.

Linear Video Ad Submission Recommendations

It is recommended, but not required for guideline compliance, that publishers adopt the following list of specifications in order to encourage standardized and more operationally efficient submission practices.
  • Video file technical specifications:
    1. Bit rates: Greater than 2Mbps.
    2. Resolution (in pixels): 640x480 preferred; 400x300 minimum; these dimensions may be adapted to accommodate wide screen videos.
    3. Color depth: 32-bit.
    4. Key frames: every 1 second.
    5. Frame rate: At least 15 frames per second.
    6. Recommended codecs for video asset submission: MPEG2, WMV, H.264 / AAC.

  • Aspect ratio: 4:3 (standard screen) or 16:9 (wide screen). Publishers may scale the submission to fit their player (e.g. colored bands may be added around the ad.)

  • Leaders (slate): Video creative may be submitted without leaders (slate) before ad content.

  • Scalability: If scaling of ad is possible, publishers should disclose to buyers in creative specs how scaling may occur.

Linear Video Ad Best Practices for Publishers

  1. Video players should gracefully accommodate both aspect ratios (4:3 or 16:9) by adding color bands or adjusting the player size to fit.

  2. Publishers should disclose to advertisers when running multiple ads in a pod during commercial breaks.
  3. Other durations commonly accepted:
    • Short-form video creative (aka "bumper", 3-10 seconds in length)
    • 60 second spots (should be run sparingly and only as post-roll or during extended mid-roll ad slots)

  4. Publishers should accept at least one of the following formats for companion ads: jpeg, gif, png, swf (Adobe Flash), and xap (Microsoft Silverlight).
  5. In order to deliver optimal user experiences, publishers should continuously manage and analyze the ratio of ads to content.
  6. It is recommended that frequency capping practices be employed. When frequency capping is practiced, publishers should disclose frequency capping practices to the buyers.

Linear Video Interactive Ad


User Experience Description

Ad experience allows a user to interact with an ad message within a video window. The ad plays for a prescribed minimum length of time (usually length of video creative) inviting the user to interact. Ad duration can continue if the user continues to interact with the ad based on publisher criteria. The ad may include video, animation, or images. A key aspect of this unit is that everything is displayed within the video frame.

Linear Video Interactive Ad Format Guidelines

  • Insertion point: Can be placed pre-roll, mid-roll or post-roll.

  • Maximum ad display duration: 30 seconds or 15 seconds max. Ads may be less than but not exceed these maximum durations.

  • Click Event: Both the video window and companion ad may be clickable with links to advertiser site

  • Linear Video Interactive Ad Unit format: Publishers should accept one of two types of interactive ad unit with the following format requirements:
    1. Full-video-window rich media interactive unit file format: Publishers should accept at least one of the following file formats: swf, flv (Adobe Flash), and xap (Microsoft Silverlight). It is important to note that some integration with publishers may still be required.
    2. Linear video ad with interactive overlays. See format guidelines for linear video ads.

Linear Video Interactive Ad Submission Recommendations

It is recommended, but not required for guideline compliance, that publishers adopt the following list of specifications in order to encourage standardized and more operationally efficient submission practices.
  • Video file technical specifications:
    1. Bit rates: Greater than 2Mbps.
    2. Resolution (in pixels): 640x480 preferred; 400x300 minimum; these dimensions may be adapted to accommodate wide screen videos.
    3. Color depth: 32-bit.
    4. Key frames: every 1 second.
    5. Frame rate: At least 15 frames per second.
    6. Recommended codecs for video asset submission: MPEG2, WMV, H.264 / AAC.

  • Leaders (slate): Video creative may be submitted without leaders (slate) before ad content.

Linear Video Interactive Ad Best Practices for Publishers

  1. Video players should gracefully accommodate both aspect ratios (4:3 or 16:9) by adding color bands or adjusting the player size to fit.
  2. Publisher should disclose to advertisers when running multiple ads in a pod.
  3. Publishers should clearly outline integration requirements for developing creative.
  4. In order to deliver optimal user experiences, publishers should continuously manage and analyze the ratio of ads to content.
  5. When possible, simple interaction cues, such as a small graphic or animation, should be included to ensure users understand when and how to interact with the ads.

Non-Linear Video Ad Formats

Overlay Ad


User Experience Description

Overlay ads run concurrently with content. Invitation unit ads are displayed on top of content while video is playing.
  • If user interacts with invitation, content is paused and full video ad is displayed in the video window.
  • If user does not engage with overlay it may disappear, collapse to a “leave-behind” companion ad or be persistent for entire content play.
Note that some overlay ads can be served over linear video ads as well.

Non-Linear Video Overlay Ad Format Guidelines

  • Insertion Point: During video play.

  • Maximum ad display duration: 5-15 seconds or persistent.

  • Click Event: Click or rollover on overlay expands to auto-initiated video, interactive ad, or takes user to advertiser’s site.

  • Overlay Ad Sizes: Publishers should accept at least one of the following overlay ad sizes: 300x50, 450x50. It is important to note that this is a minimum consideration set and that other ad sizes may also be offered by a publisher in addition to at least one of the listed sizes. The overlay ad should not be more than 1/5 of the height of the player.

Non-Linear Video Overlay Ad Submission Recommendations

It is recommended, but not required for guideline compliance, that publishers adopt the following list of specifications in order to encourage standardized and more operationally efficient submission practices.
  • Video file technical specifications (if video is used for overlay ad):
    1. Bit rates: Greater than 2Mbps.
    2. Resolution (in pixels): 640x480 preferred; 400x300 minimum; these dimensions may be adapted to accommodate wide screen videos.
    3. Color depth: 32-bit.
    4. Key frames: every 1 second.
    5. Frame rate: At least 15 frames per second.
    6. Recommended codecs for video asset submission: MPEG2, WMV, H.264 / AAC.

  • Non-video file formats: Publishers should accept at least one of the following: jpeg, png, swf (Adobe Flash), and xap (Microsoft Silverlight).

  • Maximum file size: 100k.

  • Audio: No audio allowed in overlay invitation unit; once full ad expands or begins audio should be host-initiated.

  • Opacity: Text and image - 100% opaque; background - 70% maximum.

  • Animation: For animated overlay ad units, publishers may allow an extra 20 additional vertical pixels (beyond the 1/5 limit) that can be used sparingly by the advertisers to enhance the ad message, such as for drop shadows, flying sparks, etc.

Non-Linear Video Overlay Ad Best Practices for Publishers

  1. Publishers should include a persistent close button in the upper right corner of the overlay ad unit.
  2. Publisher should clearly use overlay labels to identify unit as “Advertisement” within frame or next to overlay unit.
  3. The ad is most commonly presented anchored to bottom of player, but may be anchored along the top or side of player at the publisher’s discretion.

Non-Linear Non-Overlay Invitation Ad


User Experience Description

Like the overlay, this unit presents an invitation to engage with the ad concurrently with the content experience. However, rather than overlaying the content, the non-overlay ad’s invitation resides outside the live video frame but within the video window. This format is used when publishers do not wish to overlay the content.

Non-Linear Non-Overlay Invitation Ad Format Guidelines

  • Insertion Point: During video play; within player but not within video content frame.

  • Maximum ad display duration: At least one of the following two durations should be offered: 5-15 seconds or persistent.

  • Click Event: Click or rollover on overlay expands to auto-initiated video, interactive ad, or takes user to advertiser’s site.

  • Non-Overlay Ad Sizes: Publishers should accept at least one of the following overlay ad sizes:
    • 300x50
    • 300x60
    • 234x60
    • 400x20
    It is important to note that this is a minimum consideration set and that other ad sizes may also be offered by a publisher in addition to one of the listed sizes.

Non-Linear Non-Overlay Invitation Ad Submission Recommendations

It is recommended, but not required for guideline compliance, that publishers adopt the following list of specifications in order to encourage standardized and more operationally efficient submission practices.
  • File formats: Publishers should accept at least one of the following: jpeg, png, swf (Adobe Flash), and xap (Microsoft Silverlight).
  • Maximum file size: 100k.
  • Audio: No audio allowed in overlay invitation unit; once full ad expands or begins audio should be host-initiated.

Linear Video Interactive Ad Best Practices for Publishers

  1. The invitation should be presented as anchored to either the bottom or top of player.
  2. Expandable rich media banners enabling users to rollover or click to view an expanded ad experience may be offered.

Companion Ads

online_video_advertising_in-stream_formats_companion_ad.jpg The primary purpose of companion ads is to offer sustained visibility of the sponsor throughout the video experience. Companion ads may offer click-through interactivity and rich media experiences, such as expansion of the ad for further engagement opportunities, and may include text, graphics or rich media and may be combined with any of the format standards listed above to create unique experiences for users and opportunities for advertisers. Creative specifications for companion ads are not detailed in this document and should continue to be governed by each individual publisher. If a publisher offers companion ads as part of a linear video ad product, at least one of the following companion ad sizes should be accepted:
  1. 300x250
  2. 300x100
  3. 468x60
  4. 728x90
  5. 300x60
This is a minimum consideration set. Publishers have significant inertia around the companion sizes they use on their sites today. Publishers may continue to accept companion ads in other sizes, however, the minimum requirement is to accept one or more of the listed sizes for companions. The purpose of this minimum is to provide a core group of sizes so media buyers can rely on the portability of their creative.

Originally written by IAB Digital Video Committee for IAB and first published on May 1st 2008 as "Digital Video In-Stream Ad Format Guidelines and Best Practices".

About the author iab_thumbnail.jpg The Digital Video Committee of the IAB is comprised of 145 member companies actively engaged in the creation and execution of digital video advertising. One of the goals of the committee is to implement a comprehensive set of guidelines, measurement, and creative options for interactive video advertising.
Media Literacy: Making Sense Of New Technologies And Media by George Siemens - Apr 25 09
In this week Media Literacy Digest: the social value of new media, the information cycle, a nice presentation tool, and the real help we get from technology as human beings. media_literacy_george_siemens_by_Jason_Rhode.jpg Photo credit: Jason Rhode While the information cycle (the process whereby information is produced, validated, shared and re-created in other forms) has more or less stayed the same, it's the way each process is carried out that has drastically changed across time. Thanks to technology improvements, producing information is now a whole lot easier. Blogs, podcasts, videos allow everyone to create content with minimum effort. And to validate and share information there are plenty of social services to have others consume, re-distribute and even remix your stuff to add additional value. What seems to be very important then, is not to focus on transient tools that produce information (as they will change frequently), but rather on the information process itself, which should be the real concern of those wanting to share knowledge and reform education paradigms. Here all the details:

eLearning Resources and News

learning, networks, knowledge, technology, trends by George Siemens

Social Learning and Emerging Technology

Media_Literacy_George_Siemens_social_learning_id28778451.jpg I’ve been exploring different technologies for presentations. I’ve tried PersonalBrain - I like the tool for brainstorming and personal information management. I haven’t found it as useful for presentations. More recently, I’ve been looking at Prezi. It’s an interesting tool that does away with the slide focus of PowerPoint. And adds zooming eye candy. Here’s a presentation I delivered to OPSOA today: Social Learning and Emerging Technologies. Great tool - but I think that’s due to it being new. Once everyone is experimenting with Prezi, it will likely be just as annoying PowerPoint.

Five Questions: eLearn Magazine

Media_Literacy_George_Siemens_five_questions_id9569132.jpg Lisa Neal Gualtieri, of eLearn Magazine, asked me a series of questions learning models, basic skills, the current education system, etc. The interview is now available online. I emphasized the need for the design of organizations to reflect the ways in which information is created, shared, and re-created.

What Does It Mean to Be "a Human"?

Media_Literacy_George_Siemens_be_human_id803503.jpg Somewhere between technological advancement as a tool to augment human intelligence and pharmaceuticals to improve focus and alertness, we have to ask ourselves: what does it mean to be a human? Or do we classify all advancements as simply extending humanity? We have, after all, expended much of our effort over the last 3000 years building tools to extend the physical limitations of the human body. Are we any less human when we use technology (and pharmaceuticals) to extend our mind? Can we view technology as a means to perfect the human mind? Brain Gain paints a somewhat depressing picture of using cognitive enhancers in college and work. Will the academic world eventually have it’s own “baseball steroids” scandal? Or are the rules different when we apply enhancement to cognition instead of running / hitting / jumping / swimming?

New Criteria for New Media

Media_literacy_George_Siemens_new_media_criteria_id449508.jpg What is the value of being active in new media? If you’re an educator or researcher, is there any value in having a presence on Twitter? In being an active blogger? Does a series of self-published articles have any merit (i.e. in contrast to traditional peer review)? University of Maine is the first university I’m aware of that has started formal exploration on new criteria for new media:
Recognition and achievement in the field of new media must be measured by standards as high as but different from those in established artistic or scientific disciplines. As the reports from the American Council of Learned Societies, the Modern Language Association, and the University of Maine recommend, promotion and tenure guidelines must be revised to encourage the creative and innovative use of technology if universities are to remain competitive in the 21st century.
The article does not provide an indication of whether it was approved / adopted… (via David Weinberger)

The (Changed) Information Cycle

Click above to enlarge image The traditional information cycle looks like this:
  • Information is created through research and then disseminated through conferences, discussions with colleagues, etc.
  • Validation of the value and accuracy (both loaded terms) of the information is achieved through expert peer review.
  • If deemed to be of suitable quality, information is then published in journals, conference proceedings, and books.
  • And, if the information / research has longevity, it is re-created in later publications and used as a basis for advancing a field of knowledge.
Interestingly, the elements of the information cycle has not been substantially changed due to technology. The process, however, has been greatly altered.
  • Creation is now as simple as a podcast or blog post.
  • Dissemination and peer review occur through “crowd sourcing” methods such as digg links, ratings on Amazon, comments on Diigo
  • and sharing resources occurs through online articles / open access journals / blogs / videos / podcasts / Second Life builds, etc.
  • Re-creation - when resources are licensing to permit it - occurs through mashups and repurposing content in various media and languages.
Information is now mutable, participatory, democratic, and rapidly re-created. It is here that we should be building a new model of education. Not on the "Web 2.0" tools that are at best and instantiation of these trends (and at worst deceptive in ignoring core changes while pursuing "shiny new objects").

Originally written by George Siemens for elearnspace and first published on April 24th 2009 in his newsletter eLearning Resources and News.

About the author George-Siemens.jpg To learn more about George Siemens and to access extensive information and resources on elearning check out Explore also George Siemens connectivism site for resources on the changing nature of learning and check out his new book "Knowing Knowledge".

Photo credits: Social Learning and Emerging Technology - Edwin Verin Five Questions: eLearn Magazine - silense What Does It Mean to Be “a Human”? - nataq New Criteria for New Media - kingjon
How To Get Your Images Indexed By Google Image Search
One of my greatest traffic sources is Google Image Search, and, if you like me, utilize plenty of high quality, well-selected images for your web site, it is likely that the same thing has already happened to you as well. How-to-get-your-images-indexed-google-image-search_size485_b.jpg Photo credit: Mario Lopes In case you are not yet benefiting from this extra powerful source of web traffic here are a few tips and a video from Google itself, that should help you understand better how Google Image Search works, how it indexes images, and how to get your published images to become a valuable source of web traffic for you as well. Here all the details:

Tips on How to Get Your Images Indexed

how-to-get-images-indexed-google-image-search-tips_id10258522.jpg by Robin Good Here some basic tips you can use right away to improve your ability to get your images indexed by Google and other major search engines.
  1. Since search engines can track pages / content through text, add a text description to each image by learning to use alt tags.
  2. In Google Webmaster Tools, enable enhanced image search.
  3. Select images that have a very strong visual impact and which are "essential" by testing them against adverse viewing conditions. Learn more about How To Select Best Images For Web Publication.
  4. Rename the name of image files so that they clearly reflects in clear and simple words, separated by dashes, the actual description of the image contents.
  5. Surround the image with text that is relevant and complementary (topic-wise) to the image subject.
  6. The larger the dimension of the image are, the greater the chances of getting more Google Image Search originated traffic.

Google Image Search

Duration: 14' 45'' by Peter Linsley - Google
Full English Text Transcription


Hi everybody, my name is Peter Linsley, I'm a product manager at Google, working on Image Search. What we thought we'd do today was to run over some slides that I presented at SMX West in February 2009. The slides were sort of high-level introduction to Image Search. First of all I thought we'd run over to the presentation I gave at SMX West, and then afterwards I'll run through some of the questions that came up which seem like topics of interest for webmasters. Let's start the presentation.


how-to-get-images-indexed-google-image-search-mission_id10072702.jpg First of all, our mission with Google Image Search is to organize the world's images. We put a lot of focus on satisfying the end user, so when they come with a query and they have an image that they are looking for, our goal is to provide relevant, and useful images for that query. Of course, the theory is that if they find what they're looking for, and they enjoy their experience, they'll come back and use us again. What I wanted to get out of this talk as well was to start to engage a little bit more with the webmaster community. If we look at what has come out of conferences like this where web search representatives from different companies, have gone out and had a conversation with the webmasters and found out what their pain points were, and we found a sort of ad hoc consortium came together and came up with things like the sitemap standard, or they came up with rel="nofollow", and they came up with robots wildcards, and things along those lines. One of our hopes in Image Search is that we can trying start this dialogue and find out what sort of pain points you guys might have as webmasters, where we, the likes of Google and also other search engine companies, can trying come together and try to enhance the end user experience by finding an easier way for you guys to get your images both indexed and ranked.


how-to-get-images-indexed-google-image-search-goals_id38741541.jpg I'm just going to move on to the first slide that I had: I wanted to paint a little bit of a picture of image searchers. What they do and why they might be slightly different to the kind of audience you might be used to with web search. Image Search appear in lots of places beyond images at You've probably seen images appear in universal search, so whenever you do a query like "pictures of San Francisco" there might well be a portion of the results page that's dedicated to show images for that results. And the theory here is very much in line with our goal at Image Search which is that we are going to show you these results when we believe these are useful, and informative, and relevant to the query. Images also appear in other places like on Maps. You might have seen a little row of images in Maps which come from property, and it is a really cool product if you haven't seen it before. Images appear everywhere all over across our properties, and we're really just trying to align it with when they match the user intent and enhance the user experience.

Search Behavior

how-to-get-images-indexed-google-image-search-behavior_id563115.jpg Image searchers also have a very unique search behavior. They are a very different animals to web searchers. If you think about the paradigm when they do a query, it's not so much about what's the first result. We don't really have this sort of "I'm feeling lucky" paradigm. It's more about saying: "Here's a query. Well, here's 20 images that you might like". And users can consume those images in a heartbeat, and if the image they happen to like is at the bottom left-and corner or the bottom right-hand corner, so be it. They'll see that, there's something about the image that attracts them, and they'll click through. The other thing they do is they search a lot of images, so there's a lot of next paging going on, they'll go very deep looking for the images they like. One of the reasons why this happens is that a lot of queries we see are very subjective in nature, so if you see a query like "waterfalls", then the waterfall that you like and the waterfall that I like might be on two very different pages. There's no way, as a search engine, we can figure out what you are looking for. So, there's a lot of next paging, users can consume results very quickly, and it's just interesting I think what it might mean to you guys, as marketers, that is not all about being in the first position in the first page. There's also a lot of novel use cases on Image Search which we might not be apparent. Users use image search for inspiration. they want to get a haircut, or a tattoo, and they are looking for ideas. So, "tattoo ideas" and then they go through the pages looking for some inspiration. They'll refine that query... there's a lot sort of exploring and browsing with intent. Users also use Image Search for shopping. They use it for research, health queries, or sometimes they just use it to kill time, just for the fun of it. Another really interesting use case that we've seen is using Image Search as a visual dictionary. There's a googler in Germany who's learning German, and if he hears a noun or a word that he's not too sure of what it is, he'll type it in and he knows exactly what the word means, even though he's not looking it up in a text dictionary.

How Image Search Works

how-to-get-images-indexed-google-image-search-works.gif This is a slide on how does Image Search work: Simply put, as a webmaster, you'll see Googlebot come along and download the HTML as normal. Then what happens is, we pass through your page and we look for references to images. Typically, references to images can come in one of the two forms:
  • It's either an "a href", when you're linking to an image directly,
  • or it's in-lined image with an "img src" tag.
Then what happens is, we come along and crawl the images, and then we go through this process of classifying it. What we are trying to do here is to figure out how to bucketize these images correctly. One classification we do, is to work out if "It's a photograph or not?" Another one might be: "Does it contain a face?" Other buckets might be things like: "Is it line-art?", "Is it black and white?", "Is it an unsafe image?" that we can only show when SafeSearch is disabled. This sort of classification goes on, and the reason we do that, is we found that image searchers really like to slice and dice their results. They like to do a query and then look at it and say: "Well, these images are sort of nice, but I really wanted to see just images with faces in them". If you've seen across the top of the results page, there's a blue bar which contains some drop downs where you can filter the results down to just photographs, or just faces, or just line art, and so on and so forth. These filters tend to get used quite heavily. We like to try and bucketize things off so they show in a more relevant context. Finally, of course, the images are indexed and that's where we scroll them away, we have an index of the image, with all text associated with that particular image.

Identifying the Duplicates

how-to-get-images-indexed-google-image-search-duplicates_id519174.jpg Another part of this process is about identifying the duplicates. If you think about the way images are typically deployed online, you might put an image up and a particular page will refer to it, and another page might refer to it, and you might have other pages on your site that refer to it. Every now and again the image will get copies, and maybe it gets copied as is, or maybe gets transformed slightly. But as far the user is concerned, it is still very much the same image. The next process we go through is one of trying to cluster all of the very similar or identical images and trying treat them as one. And this is very much the same as the way things are done in the Web, where web pages are analyzed for duplicates, and then one sort of canonical winner is picked out of that entire group. The same thing happens with Image Search. We try hard to identify all the duplicates, and again the main reason for us doing this is that when somebody comes in and types "blue widgets" we really don't want be showing them exactly the same blue widget 20 times, we want try and cluster them all together and say: "Here is one interpretation, and here is another one". There are multiple images. Our goal is to try and cluster these and figure out which is the best one, and at the same time we have multiple pages that are including that image. Another task is the runtime and query time to try to figure out which one of these referrers makes the most sense for these particular images that we've chosen. And the answer for this is we're trying to choose the best one. We're trying to choose the best image that meets the user's intent more accurately, and maybe it's about size, or maybe it's about quality, or something like that. The referring pages that are included in that images are selected based on "how good it is" essentially, and that could be one of many things such as its relevance to the actual query itself. And finally, ranking is performed on a whole lot of signals and typically we don't get into details of the signals, but it's very much like Web, there's more than one signal that we use to try and figure out what the most relevant image would be.

Best Practices

how-to-get-images-indexed-google-image-search-best-practices_id702802.jpg The next slide is on best practices, so you say and you think: "This sounds great. I've got good images that I think will be useful for users as well... What can I do about it?" Probably the best bit of advice we can give is to really focus on the user. You might be thinking: "What exactly does it mean? What can I go and do tomorrow to focus on the user?" The answer is pretty simple. If you think of a user who comes to Google Image Search, and what they might be looking for, it might take one use case, such as "coloring pages". Maybe they're looking for a site which has a lot of coloring pages and they trust to use Image Search to get there. The first thing am I going to do is come along and type in "coloring pages" and they're going to look at the results and maybe they see something that they like, maybe they don't, they might hit next page a few times, and all of sudden one element will catch their eye. They like it for some reason, and maybe it's just the quality of image itself. Or maybe it's the snippet, maybe there's something around the size, or the host name, and this draws their attention. Maybe, it's, "I know that site, I'm going to click through. I trust it". Then they land upon your page. And the question is: "What sort of experience are you immersing them into?" "What sort of experience are they getting now they've come to your page" given that they were looking for coloring pages? "Do they see the current page they just clicked on above the fold?" "Is it large enough?" It's one thing to send people to "coloring pages" page where they see very small thumbnails, and another thing is to show what they just clicked on and say:
"Here it is. Here is some descriptive text, here are some related pictures. Here is some commons from users, the readings, and all sort of things."
It's really about immersing the user into a very image-centric experience. These are the kinds of landing pages, these are the kind of images we've observed that our users tend to like. Again, our intent is to try and match up the intent with the end user.

Image Search Tips

  • Focus on the user

  • High-quality images are always good, if you're taking photographs to put in your site, go and buy a digital SLR, learn how to use it, get a good lens... take really nice high-quality pictures. You don't necessarily have to take up the whole screen with the photograph or the image, but just large enough is usually what the users like.

  • Above the fold,

  • and plenty of descriptive text, and fundamentally the impetus to all of image search is a search query and the extent to which you have a lot of descriptive text that's on topic and talks about what's in the image. Maybe you want to expose EXIF data, maybe where the image was taken, maybe has a nice title across the top.

All those sort of things are really good clues for us to figure out when an image is relevant and not, but more importantly it's useful for the end user. They can read the description, read the caption, and learn a lot more about the image.


how-to-get-your-images-indexed-google-image-search-analysis-resources_id390032.jpg The last slide... I talk about resources:
  • We have the Webmaster Help Centers, where you can go and read a lot more about Image Search, and we also have forums, where you can post questions about Image Search. We really encourage webmasters to come to these forums, and post all of their questions or concerns. We monitor this very closely, and we pick up these concerns, and we will take a look at them.

  • There's also a web search help and forum for end users, so if you are an end user of Image Search and you have questions, you can leave them there.

  • The other thing is to monitor the Google Official Blog because that's where we typically put our announcements of new features, and changes, and news... specifically around Image Search.

Pages Load Times and Analytics Data

how-to-get-images-indexed-google-image-search-analysis_id31060151.jpg That was the end of my presentation which I gave at SMX. In a nutshell. At the end of the presentation we had Q&A and I wanted to pick up with some of the questions that came up during that time:
Q: The first question was: "Hey, you guys mentioned large images are a good best practice, but I have a concern with that because I don't want load really the large version of the image that I have because it takes the page a whole lot time to load up. So how do I balance.... how do I manage the trade-off there? A: I think the answer to this question is just to show an image that's large enough. Typically 2/3 of the screen, maybe one sort of ruler thumb, but the point here being that users tend to like to be able to see the image, as opposed of being a very small thumbnail. A good way to get around this, to allow the users to see the larger version if they wanted to, is to turn your image into a link to either the larger image itself or another HTML page that includes the larger version of the image. Ultimately no-one wants to see an image that's larger than the browser size.

Q: Another question that came up was about Analytics, and somebody was saying: "Hey, can I get Analytics information, traffic that's coming from Image Search? A: The answer is: "Absolutely". In the referral string that we send across, that the browser sends across, both the query that ranks the image, plus the image itself, is sent in that stream. One slight difference with Image Search of course is we are not necessarily sending people to your pages as much as we're sending people to your image on the page, and there could of course be more than one image. Bypassing upon the referral string you should be able to get all the Analytics you need to know to what queries sent the user there, and what image sent the user there.

Google video originally recorded by Peter Linsley for the Google Webmaster Central YouTube Channel on March 2nd, 2009 as "Google Image Search".

Photo credits: Mission - adistock Goals - Tatiana53 Search Behavior - Lars Christensen Identifying the Duplicates - Elena Elisseeva Best Practices - Sergey Galushko Image Search Tips - Christophe Testi Resources - Ramon Grosso Dolarea Pages Load Times and Analytics Data - Michael Osterrieder Tips on How to Get Your Images Indexed - Vasyl Yakobchuk
Newspaper Industry And Online Business Models: Jeff Jarvis On Why Newspapers Are Doomed To Fail. Quickly
The crack in the newspaper industry egg is very deep. The prospect that newspapers are doomed to fail is not anymore an hypothesis. The scarcity-based, top-down, mass-distribution business model adopted so far by the newspaper industry has no hope to survive or extend its agony in the new digital content distribution marketplace. Newspaper_industry_and_business_model_jeff_jarvis_size485_c.jpg Photo credit: Bruce Parrott Pioneering independent journalist Jeff Jarvis, addresses, in an hypothetical keynote to the Newspaper Association of America, newspaper executives and their heavy responsibilities in determining the sad state of affairs in which the newspaper industry now lays. Their key strategic mistakes having been:
  • Failure to re-organize itself and adapt to changes in the media economy.
  • Reliance on inefficient advertising platforms for too long a time.
  • The blaming of search engines and news aggregators for "stealing" content and providing nothing in return.
  • Having missed to reach and engage young generations, losing future audience.
But there's more. To read Jeff Jarvis full address to the NAA, just read on:

The speech the NAA should hear

by Jeff Jarvis


The Newspaper Association of America is meeting in San Diego this week and they’re preaching up at their own choir loft with angry, self-righteous fire and brimstone about their plight. Today, Google CEO Eric Schmidt will address them, but he’ll be polite because that’s the way he is and because there’ll be a few hundred aging but armed publishers with blunderbusses aimed at his heart. They need to hear a new message, a blunt message from the outside. Here’s the speech I think they should hear: You blew it.

Anticipate Changes

Newspaper_industry_and_business_models_jeff_jarvis_anticipate_changes_id12747721.jpg You’ve had 20 years since the start of the web, 15 years since the creation of the commercial browser and craigslist, a decade since the birth of blogs and Google to understand the changes in the media economy and the new behaviors of the next generation of - as you call them, Mr. Murdoch - net natives. You’ve had all that time to reinvent your products, services, and organizations for this new world, to take advantage of new opportunities and efficiencies, to retrain not only your staff but your readers and advertisers, to use the power of your megaphones while you still had it to build what would come next. But you didn’t. You blew it. And now you’re angry.

A New Business Reality

Newspaper_industry_and_business_models_jeff_jarvis_new_id436172.jpg Well, gentlemen - and that’s pretty much all I see before me: angry, old, white men - you have no right to anger. Instead, you are the proper objects of anger. The public should be angry with you for the poor stewardship you have exercised over the press and its service to society. Your journalists are angry at you for losing their jobs. Your pressmen and drivers and classified-ad takers are angry at you for the same reason (and at the journalists for paying attention only to their own plight). Your advertisers were angry at you for using your monopolistic power to overcharge them and for providing inefficient platforms and bad service for so long. But they’re not angry anymore because they left you for better advertising vehicles and better prices in a competitive marketplace. But you’re the ones who are acting angry. Yesterday, you delivered a foot-stomping little hissy fit over Google and aggregators. How dare they link to you and not pay you? Oh, I so want Eric Schmidt to tell you today that you’re getting your wish and that Google will no longer link to you. Beware what you wish for. You’d lose a third of your traffic overnight. If other aggregators (I work with one) and bloggers (I am one) and Facebook all decided to follow suit, you’d lose half your traffic. On most of your sites, only 20 percent of the audience in a day ever sees your homepage and its careful packaging; 4 of 5 readers instead come in through search and links. In the link economy - instead of the outmoded content economy in which you operate - Google and aggregators and bloggers are bringing value to you; they should be charging you for the value they bring. You should rise up today and give Mr. Schmidt a big thank you for not charging you. But you won’t, because you’ve refused to understand this new business reality. You blew it.

Losing Future Generations

Newspaper_industry_and_business_models_jeff_jarvis_young_generations_id29893451.jpg Your Google snits don’t even address your far more profound problem: the vast majority of your potential audience who never come to your sites, the young people who will never read your newspapers. You all remember the quote from a college student in The New York Times a year ago, the one that has kept you up at night. Let’s say it together: “If the news is that important, it will find me.” What are you doing to take your news to her? You still expect her to come to you - to your website or to the newsstand - just because of the magnetic pull of your old brand. But she won’t, and you know it. You lost an entire generation. You lost the future of news. You blew it.

Desperate Moves

Newspaper_industry_and_business_models_jeff_jarvis_desperate_moves_id490839.jpg You had a generation to reinvent the business but you did too little. I by all means include myself in that indictment because I spent my career in our industry: Guilty. I didn’t raise loud enough alarms (it felt as if they were too loud already) or accomplish enough change (not nearly enough). I blew it, too. But no last-minute hail-Mary passes will make up for our failings. Having not taken advantage of the last two decades to reinvent the news business, you’re not going to manage a rescue in two months, before the creditors come calling. That was your worst hail Mary: stoking up on debt and hoping to milk these cows for years to come. Mad cash-cow disease, that’s what too many of you had. Your other desperate moves: suddenly fantasizing that you can fix everything by going behind a wall (to tell with Google and its billions of readers!) and charging us because you think we “should” pay. Since when is a business plan built on "should?” I haven’t seen a sensible P&L justifying this dream from any of you. If you have one, please stand up show us now… I thought so. Other desperation moves: fantasies of white knights from foundations buying you and letting you stay just the way you are. government subsidies (do we even have to discuss the danger?)… switching to not-for-profit, as if that suddenly takes away the need to sustain the business still… misguided, self-righteousness thinking that Google or cable companies owe you money, as if you have a God-given right to the revenue and customers you lost... No, none of this will save newspapers and in your subconscious, at least, you know it. You know the truth. You blew it.

Possible Solutions?

Newspaper_industry_and_business_models_jeff_jarvis_possible_solutions_id29387441.jpg So what can you do? Two years, even a year ago, I would have said that you had time to build the networks and frameworks and platforms that would support the ecosystem of news that will come next.
  • I would have said you could retrain your staff to take on new responsibilities: organizing and supporting that ecosystem, curating the best, training people to be the best.
  • I would have advised you to offer your staff members the opportunity to join that ecosystem, setting them up in business.
  • I would have told you to take advantage of the efficiencies the Web allows (do what you do best, link to the rest, I used to say).
  • I would have argued that we need to invent new forms of marketing help for an entire new population of businesses-formerly-known-as-advertisers.
I did say that. But the financial crisis only accelerated your fall. It didn’t cause the fall, it accelerated it. So now, for many of you, there isn’t time. It’s simply too late. The best thing some of you can do is get out of the way and make room for the next generation of net natives who understand this new economy and society and care about news and will reinvent it, building what comes after you from the ground up. There’s huge opportunity there, for them. You blew it.

LATER: When Eric Schmidt did take the podium at NAA, as reported by PaidContent’s Staci Kramer, he expressed some nicely ironic befuddlement at the AP going after them when Google has “a multimillion-dollar deal with the Associated Press not only to distribute their content but also to host it on our servers.” Then he did chasten the publishers:
But Schmidt came down harder on concerns about intellectual property and fair use: “From our perspective, we look at this pretty thoroughly and there is always a tension around fair use… I would encourage everybody, think in terms of what your reader wants. These are ultimately consumer businesses and if you piss off enough of them, you will not have any more.”
RIght, pissing off customers is not a business model. Not anymore.

Originally written by Jeff Jarvis for BuzzMachine and first published on April 7th, 2009 as "The speech the NAA should hear".

About the author jeffjarvis_thumbnail.jpg Jeff Jarvis blogs about media and news at Buzzmachine. He is associate professor and director of the interactive journalism program at the City University of New York’s new Graduate School of Journalism. He is consulting editor and a partner at Daylife, a news startup. He writes a new media column for The Guardian and is host of its Media Talk USA podcast. He also consults for media companies.

Photo credits: Anticipate Changes - Helder Almeida A New Business Reality - Editorial Losing Future Generations - Picsfive Desperate Moves - Herbert Kratky Possible Solutions? - Nikolai Sorokin
Top Visual Search Engines: The Most Interesting Ways To Visually Explore Search Engine Results
If you are looking into innovative ways to browse and explore search engine results, visual search engines may provide exactly what you have been looking for. Instead of long lists of page titles and URLs, visual search engines deliver visually rich maps of content results, often utilizing also size, color and positioning to communicate at a glance a greater array of information about the items found. top_visual_search_engines_guide_id36158601_size350.jpg Photo credit: lhfgraphic Visual search engines are generally web-based tools just like Google and they require no extra software or plugin to be installed. You can just type a keyword and start diving inside their visual result pages: select a visualization type, re-arrange your results, sort them by date, relevance, or by other possible parameters. Within the set of visual search engines available out there, there are some that allow you to search standard Web-based content as well as others capable of retrieving also network contacts, similar sites, videos, images, podcasts, and much more. In fact, some of these visual search engines will also search for your preferred keywords inside Wikipedia, Amazon or Twitter. To explore and give a try these eye-striking visual search engines you need to look no further as I have taken the time to search, check and pull together a guide that includes all of the visual search engines out there. As always, I have also done some extra homework to identify some basic comparison criteria to help you select the visual search engine that could best match your needs:
  • Technology Type: Software or web-based.
  • Visualization types: Dynamic map, stacks, list, tag clouds, etc.
  • Content Sources: Web, Wikipedia, videos, images, Amazon Books, Twitter, etc.
  • Search options: Sort by date, exclude keywords, search inside domain, RSS, etc.
Here all of the best visual search engines and what I have discovered about each one:

Top Visual Search Engines Comparison Table

Top Visual Search Engines

1. Grokker

Grokker is a web-based search engine that allows you to explore your results in a visual fashion. Your results are displayed both in a standard outline and in a dynamic map you can interact with. Grokker takes advantage of Yahoo!, Wikipedia, and Amazon Books search engines to perform its queries. Results can be sorted by date, source, domain and refined selecting (or excluding) specific related keywords. Grokker is also available as a software for enterprise use.

2. KartOO

KartOO is a web-based visual search engine that can search the Web, images, videos and Wikipedia entries. Using Google, and Yahoo! search engines KartOO allows you to create a visual map where related results are linked between them. You can save and print your map, filter results using a parental filter, and filter your SERPs by language.

3. Viewzi

Viewzi is a powerful visual search engine that provides many different possibilities to display your results. Using Yahoo!, Google and Viddler, you can search the Web, images and videos. SERPs can be arranged in stacks, along a Google timeline, for individual site information, using simple text, showing a photo tag cloud, and more. Results can be also customized as you can star or hide sites you care / don't care about. A parental filter is also available.

4. Searchme

Searchme is a web-based search engine that allows you to explore SERPs in a visual fashion. Searchme displays results in a dynamic carousel stack you can navigate back and forth. Searches are performed in multiple categoreis like videos, images, advertising, shopping, sport,, entertainment, news, and more. Other features include a parental filter, the possibility to play media right inside Searchme, and the sharing of your results via Twitter.

5. Quintura

Quintura is a web-based search engine that allows you to explore results visually. Quintura can search the Web, images and Blinkx. Results are displayed in a customizable tag cloud, and a classic organic outline. the tag cloud with your results can be also embedded and shared with others via e-mail.

6. Ujiko

Ujiko is a visual search engine you can use to display and explore your search results visually. Completely web-based, Ujiko allows you to scout the Web and arrange your results in a radial outline. Available in English, German and French.

7. Search-cube

Search-cube is a search engine that instead displaying your results in a classic organic style, creates a 3D cube made up of visual previews. Web-based and very easy to use, Search-cube allows you to search for sites, images, and videos.

8. Middlespot

Middlespot is a visual search engine that lets you explore the results of your searches in a visual fashion. Sources available for search are: Web, Images, News, Amazon and Twitter. Middlespots allows you to create as many workpads as the search terms you want to explore. Results will be displayed inside a gallery where you can zoom and re-arrange elements.

9. oSkope

oSkope is a visual search engine. Using oSkope you can visually display and explore search results for specific keywords right inside your browser window. Results from Amazon, eBay, Flickr, Fotolia, Yahoo! and YouTube can be explored in different visualizations styles like: grid, stack, pile, graph and list.

10. Nexplore

Nexplore allows you to browse your search results in a visual fashion. Nexplore performs searches on the Web, news, videos, images, blogs and podcasts. The web-based service shows also related Wikipedia definitions for your searched keywords. Results can be displayed in three ways: summary, line, gallery, and can be shared on the Internet.

11. eyePlorer

eyePlorer is not a proper visual search engine, because you cannot search for any words or phrase you like. The service rather provides you with a visual representation for common, popular facts and suggest connections with other related facts and sources. All results displayed inside a colored wheel can be arranged onto a virtual notepad for later reading and sorted for relevance.

12. Ziipa

Ziipa is a web-based visual search engine for Web 2.0 web designs and applications. Unlike other competitors in this field, Ziipa does not search images, videos, or other media content. Results are showed by a gallery and a tag cloud and can be shared and syndicated via RSS.

13. RedZee

RedZee is a visual search engine that shows search results in a visual fashion, displaying a carousel you can navigate back and forth right inside your browser window. No media content can be searched via RedZee.

14. Liveplasma

Liveplasma is a visual search engine to explore music and movies. By searching for a keyword related to these two topics, the service will suggest other potential related interests and arrange them in bubbles, linked between them. All without leaving your browser. You can also refine your map by searching for specific topics like directors, actors, or a particular discography. The map with your results can also be shared on the Web.

15. TouchGraph Google Browser

TouchGraph Google Browser is a visual search engine that displays the connections between web sites using Google technology and visualizing the results in an interactive and customizable map. Results can be filtered and re-arranged around the map. You need to have at least Java 1.5 installed on your machine for TouchGraph Google Browser to work.

Originally prepared by Robin Good and Daniele Bazzano for MasterNewMedia, and first published on April 20th, 2009 as "Top Visual Search Engines: The Most Interesting Ways To Visually Explore Search Engine Results".
Future Learning Environments: Key Trends And Highlights From George Siemens' Media Literacy
How is the educational landscape going to change in the near future? Which are the key trends and new directions which are going to influence the most we study, research and learn? Future_learning_environments_best_of_george_siemens_id466102_size485_b.jpg Photo credit: pnrphoto New, decentralized forms of learning such as personal learning environments, non-traditional and more flexible approaches like just-in-time and informal learning, are bound to shape differently not just the way you learn but more than anything the way you think and conceptualize learning as an activity. How much the ability to share, to connect to other people and networks and to leverage collaboration technologies will directly affect your ability to learn? In this digest on the future of learning, George Siemens brings together some of the most interesting pointers, news stories and data trends on this topic, allowing you to get a glimpse of the educational panorama awaiting us. Here some interesting resources for you to explore:

Personal Learning Environments

by George Siemens

Personal Learning Environments

Media_literacy_George_Siemens_personal_learning_environments_id378803.jpg Learning happens constantly. The formal education component receives more respect than informal learning. As content and conversations fragment, I doubt existing systems of education will retain their shape. The real opportunity lies in how institutions think about “tying together” the multiple learnings across our daily lives. Canadian Council on Learning introduces the multiple learning domains as “limitless dimensions of learning”. Two approaches are possible to serve as the glue to pull learning together in a manner that can be accredited or evaluated by traditional educational models:
  1. eportfolios
  2. and personal learning environments.
Eportfolios have great potential, but little uptake. Personal learning environments have similar potential, but the concept is a bit difficult for educators to grasp. I would have loved to sit in on a recent session by three individuals who know what they’re talking about…here’s their commentary on the workshop: Jared Stein, Chris Lott, and Scott Leslie. This PLE thing will yet take root :). Published on MasterNewMedia on Nov 22 2008

PLE Nominalism?...

personal_learning_environments_main-135.jpg Photo credit: Yuri Arcurs Words are a pain. Especially when they obscure underlying concepts of value. Take Personal Learning Environments (PLE) or Networks as an example. When PLEs were first advocated by a group of edubloggers, the concept was largely in reaction to learning management systems (LMS). A concept, after all, is defined by the context in which it originates and how it is related to other terms. PLEs in this case, were a push against the structure and lack of learner control evident with an LMS. That has changed. Many people now have personal experience with blogs, podcasts, Facebook, wikis, etec. The concept of a PLE is less abstract; and as a result, more critical discourse occurs. Chris Lott expresses his frustration with the tools, concepts, and misunderstanding of PLEs (can we apply the notion of nominalism to PLEs?) Tired of PLE Flak: "The majority of educators have no idea what resources are available to them and never leave their email client or their default MSN page. Thus, I have found it useful to sit people down and model for them the tools and techniques for networking. This often includes holding them by the hand while they sign up to follow and participate in particular groups and networks. Many people have absolutely no idea that their network can extend beyond their email box and their passive browsing." I'm not interested in the PLE: "All a PLE is, to my way of understanding, is a particular, personal selection of tools, contacts, and methods. Many of us are still at a stage in our evolution that we can learn much from knowing what tools others use, how they use them, and who they make contact with." Published on MasterNewMedia on Mar 8 2008

PLEs and NRC

Media_literacy_george_siemens_sdownes.jpg Congratulations to Stephen Downes and NRC! In yesterday’s OLDaily, Stephen mentions approval for what looks like a large project on personal learning environments (PLEs). I couldn’t find a detailed description of the project, but from the hiring requirements (five positions) and length (three years), it’s reasonable to assume significant financial resources have been allocated. I’m familiar with smaller research projects around PLEs and the odd journal issue devoted to exploring the concept. The project Stephen is managing - due to size and length - is a milestone. The informal theorizing of educational technologists requires a research base if PLEs are to move outside of our small network. I hope that NRC will be transparent in this project. A good opportunity exists to form a distributed research network, in addition to the core team, to brainstorm, reflect, evaluate, discuss, etc. Published on MasterNewMedia on Jan 24 2009

Distributed Learning Environments

distributed-learning-environment_id5271161_size175.jpg Writing in the Digital Age:
"In the conversation over distributed learning environments, it is important to begin by recognizing that the question is not IF our learning environments can be or should be distributed but rather HOW... Students’ learning experiences are shaped by these distributed networks, and our pedagogies circulate through these networks. This may seem self-evident, but our discourse on emerging technologies in teaching regularly makes the error of situating the choice between a new “distributed” environment and an existing cohesive one (and in the case of face-to-face teaching, even an imagined “immediate” environment)."
The author makes a point I've been whining about for awhile: traditional classrooms "pre-make" too many of the connections for learners. Learners, in my own humble opinion, do not need their connections fully pre-formed. A bit of stress, a bit of ambiguity, and a bit of confusion are healthy contributors to learning. As long as we have a feedback loop where learners can contribute and faculty can respond and adapt, we have the basics in place. Connections are the starting point of all learning. It's so obvious... and therefore so often overlooked. We really need to think about types of connections learners have with each other and content... and ways that we can extend the learning experience by critically analyzing and forming those initial connections. Published on MasterNewMedia on July 1 2008

The Decade (Century?) of Networks

networks_the-web.jpg The hype of network approaches to information creation, sharing, communication, and web search continues to grow (and so it should). Perhaps the most substantive shift in our generation and upcoming decade (century?) is the move toward networked thinking. Once we start talking networks, a whole new mode of thinking emerges; one where cause-effect are slightly uncoupled and emergence and complexity theory play a greater role. Networks - which are required in today's information abundant and complex world - have the potential to reorganize much of society and education in particular. A few resources I've recently encountered on networks: Social search based on personal networks
"The public web is made up of linked pages that represent both documents and people. Google Search helps make this information more accessible and useful. If you take away the documents, you're left with the connections between people. Information about the public connections between people is really useful -- as a user, you might want to see who else you're connected to, and as a developer of social applications, you can provide better features for your users if you know who their public friends are. There hasn't been a good way to access this information. The Social Graph API now makes information about the public connections between people on the Web..." (Source: Google's social graph API)
Published on MasterNewMedia on Feb 9 2008

Networks of Everything

Media_literacy_george_siemens_network_id21666251.jpg Apparently, by 2017, personal networks will consist of over 1000 devices. I’m not sure how they came up with that number, but it seems realistic. Most of us already deal with hundreds of devices on a daily basis. They’re not all networked yet… but they will be. The key to effective functioning with these multiple devices will be in how they are connected and in how we can use that connectedness in making decisions. Obviously, we need something more than just tying these devices together. We need new approach to managing the overwhelming information they will produce. That’s partly as software problem and partly a conceptual shift. As I’ve stated before, as information becomes more complex and abundant, we will begin to rely to a greater degree on technology to perform a grunt cognition role by deciphering and presenting patterns for us to consider. Published on MasterNewMedia on Dec 6 2008

Education Needs to Be Pulled Into The 21st Century

Media_literacy_george_siemens_id26713661.jpg Short rant. Articles like - Education needs to be pulled into the 21st century - cause many educators to smile and nod in agreement. The report broadly splashes all the latest and coolest terms that cause sensible educators to viciously agree:
In an increasingly complex and competitive world, teachers must understand technology and connect coursework to the global economy, curricula should eliminate less relevant material and incorporate modern skills such as global awareness, technology and media literacy, and standardized tests must include these new subjects”.
Ok. That’s very nice. We are then treated with the typical mis-focused comment: “I hope to encourage policymakers to better equip our graduates for today’s and tomorrow’s jobs”. Education isn’t only about creating employees. It’s about assisting individuals to develop into the types of people that can tackle and handle the continual gyrations of a complex world. I don’t buy into the “education must prepare people for jobs that don’t yet exist” view. Education - as it always has - must prepare people for an unknown future. This isn’t new. When I was going to school, the particular job that I have today did not exist. How should we prepare people for, let’s say, the current financial crisis? By training people to be stockbrokers? No. You can’t prepare people for black swans. People must be capable of handling uncertainty, but also adapting as environments shift and change. At its most basic, education must move from epistemology to ontology. Getting back to the report: give us something useful. Statements as broad as those provided in the article (i.e. “develop new programs, standards, partnerships and assessment measures”) are hardly a basis for action. Perhaps it’s time that we stop focusing on what our curriculum is and start focusing on how we actually do curriculum in the first place. Published on MasterNewMedia on Nov 29 2008

The Future of Universities

Media_literacy_george_siemens_id9382412.jpg How are universities likely to be impacted by current technological trends? Two publications seek to address this question: The Tower and the Cloud:
The emergence of the networked information economy is unleashing two powerful forces.
  1. On one hand, easy access to high-speed networks is empowering individuals. People can now discover and consume information resources and services globally from their homes. Further, new social computing approaches are inviting people to share in the creation and edification of information on the Internet. Empowerment of the individual - or consumerization - is reducing the individual’s reliance on traditional brick-and-mortar institutions in favor of new and emerging virtual ones.

  2. Second, ubiquitous access to high-speed networks along with network standards, open standards and content, and techniques for virtualizing hardware, software, and services is making it possible to leverage scale economies in unprecedented ways.

The Future of Higher Education:
Technological innovation, long a hallmark of academic research, may now be changing the very way that universities teach and students learn. For academic institutions, charged with equipping graduates to compete in today's knowledge economy, the possibilities are great. Distance education, sophisticated learning-management systems and the opportunity to collaborate with research partners from around the world are just some of the transformational benefits that universities are embracing.
Both publications are technology-centric. I can understand that emphasis, after all, technology is changing the rest of the world, surely it will soon make a more significant impact in education. A view of educational change pressures needs to be more broad. Economic, societal, population trends, rise of education levels in emerging countries, may all apply as much influence in altering education as technology. Published on MasterNewMedia on Nov 8 2008

Peer 2 Peer University

Media_literacy_george_siemens_P2P_university.jpg This - Peer 2 Peer University - is one of those concepts that I would love to strongly endorse as a step in a different direction from traditional universities. It reflects much of what I write about on this site (parts of the proposed document read very much like my post on content, conversation, and accreditation). Yet, as I reviewed the site, I find myself in disagreement with certain elements. I like the approach of openness (it's hard to argue otherwise, especially in education where we can open doors to more hopeful futures simply through providing access to learning opportunities). I like the view of shorter courses. I like the grassroots "we had a good idea and did something about it" approach. I also like the participatory design of learning. What do I disagree with? I disagree with the notion of "sense makers". We make sense personally. No one makes sense for us. I'm also somewhat unsure of the formality of this approach. It bears within it too much of the existing university model. Why centralize things? The only thing we really need to centralize is the accreditation (i.e. open accreditation). Who really cares where or how people "got their learning"? Use existing networks of learning opportunities. This is P2P University administered through centralized models (which, then means, it's not really P2P). I love the concept. I like the vision. I don't like the execution. It's foreplay when we need consummation. Published on MasterNewMedia on Oct 25 2008

Time to End “Courseocentricism

media_literacy_george_siemens_curseocentrism_id1518671.jpg Aside from winning the most awkward new term - courseocentricism (why not just course-centricism?) - this article makes a compelling case for the limitations of current views of courses. The author appeals for ending course silos as a way to improve consistency across curriculum and thereby produce a more integrated or connected body of knowledge. From the article:
"At a time when amazing new forms of connectivity are made possible by new digital technologies and when much of the best recent work in the humanities has made us more aware of the social and collective nature of intellectual work, we still think of teaching in ways that are narrowly private and individualistic, as something we do in isolated classrooms with little or no knowledge of what our colleagues are doing in the next classroom or the next building and little chance for each other’s courses to become reference points in our own."
I like the idea of thinning our classroom walls and allowing connections to be formed between concepts from other subject areas. But that responsibility shouldn’t rest on the educator. “Getting on the same page” (author’s words) seems a bit at odds with opening up class rooms. We need to all get on our own page, form our own connections, our own understanding of different fields. It seems that the desire still runs high for educators to apply increased organization when problems become intractable. What is really needed is a complete letting go of our organization schemes and open concepts up to the self / participatory / chaotic sensemaking processes that flourish in online environments. Published on MasterNewMedia on Jan 17 2009

Boundary-less Living, Working and Learning

boundary-less-living-learning_id143614_size130.jpg It's difficult to stay current and informed in a climate where everything is changing. Just trying to stay current in the educational technology field is a challenge, never mind trying to follow global political events, media trends, and related other changes. I find I need a balance between taking in information and reflecting on what the information means. And, of course, experimenting with and implementing key concepts in actual learning environments. The frustrating irony of rapid information growth is that the more information we encounter, the more time we need for reflection... but the less time we actually have. Boundary-less living, working and learning:
"Meeting the intellectual and creative challenges of the 21st century demands using every ounce of creativity available. That means building and sustaining a creative environment for yourself, your employees and your family. As a knowledge worker, you need time to think. To innovate. To experience. To create."
Published on MasterNewMedia on Jan 12 2008

Originally written by George Siemens for elearnspace in his newsletter eLearning Resources and News. Selection by Robin Good and Daniele Bazzano.

About the author George-Siemens.jpg To learn more about George Siemens and to access extensive information and resources on elearning check out Explore also George Siemens connectivism site for resources on the changing nature of learning and check out his new book "Knowing Knowledge".
Content Licensing: How To Monetize Your Content Being Reused Across The Web
How do you close the gap between potential revenues from content used across the Web and and the ability to effectively extract such revenues from unlicensed publishers redistributing your content online? Context-Rights-Re-using-Content-Monetization-by-Attributor-485x.jpg Image credit: Attributor These days controlling distribution is not only less feasible but also less desirable, as legitimate viral distribution of content benefits every party involved by allowing content to naturally find its most valuable contexts. But for the average web publisher, the issue of balancing the scale when it comes to monetize content that is being freely republished by others is not an easy one to deal with. Knowing who is using your content, how much of it and within which contexts can greatly help you identify opportunities for creating new distribution and licensing partnerships and not just extra proof to threaten legal action against them. Co-operating is the name of the game. In this article, content media expert John Blossom, guides you in exploring the potential content licensing and distribution opportunities that can emerge from looking at unlicensed online content republication with a new pair of glasses and some new, truly powerful tools. Here all the details:

Closing the Online Revenue Gap: Attributor Powers Automated Monetization Solutions for Distributed Content

closing-revenue-gap_id163783-135.jpg by John Blossom A fundamental problem that the publishing industry faces in getting revenues from online content is that most of the value that can be created from their content lies beyond their own Web sites and portals. With billions of Web publications vying to get people's attention and a relative handful of professionally produced publications to compete for that attention it's no small wonder many media executives are humming the now-familiar "content in context" meme as they ponder how to make use of the Web's ocean of content to promote their own wares. The sad truth, though, is that most publishers are ill-equipped to get any money from their content beyond their own online publications. Most media organizations have tiny content licensing business development teams that typically trudge through protracted deals with a handful of publishing partners, leaving the lion's share of potential revenues from partners on the table.

Enter Attributor

Attributor-logo.gif Attributor Corporation has been hot on the trail of how to close the gap between potential revenues from content used across the Web and and the ability to extract those revenues. The Attributor system works by listening to RSS feeds of content from participating publishers. Attributor captures what they've published and then compares it to content that's been published on the Web. When Attributor finds content that's a full or partial match it compiles content usage reports for clients who can then can use automated tools from Attributor or their own methods to pursue the reuse of their content from a business and legal perspective.

How Big Is This Pie?

content-reuse-monetization-pie-slice-id30908901-250.jpg How big is the opportunity for monetizing reused content? Recently Attributor shared with me some research based on content from prominent publishers' Web sites fed into its system along with usage data that surfaced some profound statistics. The key thought-provoker emerging from this research is that the audience for people viewing content on sites that were not active syndication or licensing partners was more than five times larger than the audience on the publishers' own sites. Almost half of these largely "passive syndicators" were copying 90 percent or more of the content from publishers' articles and more than 70 percent of the copied articles were using at least half of the available content from articles.

How Reusers of Your Content Can Bring Extra Revenue

Context-Rights-Re-using-Content-Monetization-pumping-id31852921-285.jpg Before the publishers reading this post slip on their hair shirts and moan in protest, please consider this first: what publisher wouldn't want to have a 5X increase in potentially monetizable content inventory with no additional overhead? The research also indicated that two-thirds of the sites using content from these leading publishers were providing links back to the publisher's sites, indicating that they were at least nominally cooperative in building traffic to their sites. Armed with data from Attributor, publishers can pursue on a more highly automated basis Web sites that use their content and turn passive syndicators into active publishing partners - and in the process of doing so shift the balance of traffic back into sites that will feed revenues to the publisher. Attributor projects that using their technologies could help to reduce non-cooperative passive syndicators significantly, potentially doubling traffic captured at publishers' own sites and nearly tripling the traffic visiting cooperative syndication partners. No doubt it would also help content reusers pressing the boundaries of fair use policy to understand what individual publishers considered to be fair use more quickly and effectively.

How To Establish New Revenue Streams Rapidly

establish-new-revenue-streams-stockxpertcom_id13916181-255.jpg Attributor sees its data gathering and analysis tools as a key to unlocking significant new online revenues for publishers. It sees at least two basic options that publishers using its data can undertake to establish revenue streams rapidly.
Option one: Attributor helps publishers reclaim their fair share of ad revenues from ads served up by existing ad networks on sites using their content. This could in theory help for managing both active and passive syndication partners. Option two: enable Attributor to funnel ads from existing networks and publishers' own direct ad sales to syndication partners. Obviously there are other steps that publishers could take based on Attributor data, but either of these options suggested by Attributor help both to reclaim ad revenues for legitimate publishers and syndicators efficiently and to reduce the revenues fed out by ad networks to non-legitimate syndicators.

Estimate Your Extra Potential Revenue with FairShare

Context-Rights-Re-using-Content-Monetization-estimate-id13705101-245.jpg To make it easier for publishers large and small to get an idea of the potential for Attributor to help them monetize content they have launched FairShare, a no-fee service that enables people to get data on sites using their content from Attributor analytics provided in an RSS feed. FairShare will pump out stats on individual articles and how they've been reused on specific Web sites, including data on what percentage of an article has been used, whether the reuser is using ads on the page on which it appears and whether there are linkbacks to their original content. As an option FairShare makes it easier for people using Creative Commons licensing to map their license terms to the patterns of use found in Attributor's Web site analysis. Although launched recently, FairShare is already tracking more than 150,000 articles and has found more than 3.3 million shared copies of content. As seen in the example above, FairShare is finding sites that use just fair use snippets of ContentBlogger's content as well as sites that seem to take more than their fair share. If my site, ContentBlogger, was ad-supported and Attributor was funneling this data to the ad networks that support content clippers I could be seeing some automatic revenues from these sites. A nice thought in a slow ad economy, no?


Freewheel-tv-logo.png Another interesting aspect is that Attributor technology has been launched recently as an underpinning for FreeWheel, a service that enables videos from YouTube and other outlets that are embedded on other Web sites to be served up with the ads that benefit the original video publisher the most. FreeWheel calls this concept "Monetization Rights Management", as opposed to the Digital Rights Management packaging that tries to keep others from distributing content themselves. FreeWheel notes - quite rightly, I believe - that legitimate viral distribution of content needs to be encouraged so that content can find its most valuable contexts. Once content is in a valuable context it can be monetized with ads and other marketing mechanisms that benefit both the creator of the content and the publisher that found a valuable context for their content.

Context Monetization Principles

Context-Rights-Re-using-Content-Monetization-principles-id18432651-300.jpg As major publishers mull over the capabilities of Attributor technologies, hopefully they begin to see that it offers a key solution to the dilemma of how to make money on content in an era in which controlling distribution is not only less feasible but also less desirable. To borrow from the language of my book Content Nation, the world is now a nation of publishers, a nation whose value cannot be ignored by traditional publishers as a source of monetizable contexts. Since most non-subscription Web content relies on search engines to maximize their ad revenues, Attributor's search-based technologies can enable publishers to understand who's using their content with the same tools that those publishers use to drive monetizable traffic to their sites. Using Attributor data and tools can enable a highly automated and efficient approach to revenue generation from viral distribution that would eliminate friction with those outlets that use a publisher's content fairly and that can allow publishers to keep on top of "bad apples" on a daily basis. As major publishers such as The New York Times and The Guardian begin to set their content loose via sophisticated programming interfaces, the Attributor concepts of using searching and content identification to establish commercial relationships automatically with publishers using their content can open up an era in which reused content is creating higher value and revenues rapidly for publishers with lower audience acquisition costs. With revenue acquistion schemes such as Attributor in place publishers can concentrate more on making their content as useful and as accurate as possible - and leave the inventiveness of where it's going to be most useful to the world at large. Certainly publishers will continue to compete to make their own publications a destination of choice, but with only thousands of traditional publishers and billions of self-empowered Web and mobile publishers the time has come to use technology to harvest the value of content in as many publishing contexts as possible and as efficiently as possible. Most especially in the news industry, where getting people's attention in fleeting moments is increasingly difficult, the ability to harvest revenues from content reuse and linking more automatically is an absolute necessity.

Is Copyright Dead?

copyright-logo.gif This need to chase the contexts of content use in order to make money in online media does not mean that copyright is a dead concept. Far from it: copyright ensures that the creators of original works of authorship have the ability to claim ownership of the intellectual property that is rightfully theirs, especially when it is used in contexts where its use is harder to verify, such as in enterprises and in private communications such as emails, photocopying and reprints. But it's important to remember that the concepts of copyright were introduced into law when publishing was still a relatively fledgling industry, with few commercial outlets available and with the need to support getting information and ideas out to the public via a still-young technology a crying necessity. The "printing press" of today is not any particular Web site or service but the Web as a whole: every person has the potential to play a role in the mechanism of publishing. As such, copy rights, while still relevant, have become less important than context rights - the ability to say how participants in a global peer publishing and aggregation process should recognize the value of a creative work.

Context Rights Become Reality

Context-rights-logo.gif Nearly three years ago I introduced the concept of Context Rights at a presentation at BookExpo in Washington, DC, using the above square logo as a symbol for context rights. Today in the work of Attributor I see the beginnings of the effective monetization of context rights taking form. I am hopeful that publishers will finally begin to see the outlines of how to use technologies such as Attributor to forge more effective relationships with the global publishing mechanism of Content Nation to benefit the creative forces behind their content and to create new ways to define the value of their brands. It's a far different methodology than most publishers are used to, but in a situation in which the fundamental nature of publishing has changed far more radically than most traditional publishers have dared to acknowledge, it is time for publishers to embrace context rights and to define their value propositions more effectively, as they also live in a world whose very survival may depend upon the power of ubiquitous publishing to solve the very problems humanity is rapidly facing.
(Full disclosure statement: I really have nothing to disclose, I have had no past or present commercial relationship with Attributor. I just believe that they are pursuing one of the most effective routes to content monetization available today and I hope that publishers pay close attention to their efforts.)

Originally written by John Blossom for Shore and first published on March 1st 2009 as "Closing the Online Revenue Gap: Attributor Powers Automated Monetization Solutions for Distributed Content". John Blossom is also the author of Content Nation a great book about "Surviving and Thriving as Sovial Media Changes Our Work, Our Lives, and Our Future".

Photo credits: Closing the Online Revenue Gap: ... - Marc Dietrich How Big Is This Pie? - dvorakova How Reusers of Your Content Can Bring Extra Revenue - Vasyl Yakobchuk How To Establish New Revenue Streams Rapidly - norebbo Estimate Your Extra Potential Revenue with FairShare - norebbo Context Monetization Principles - Andy Dean
How To Blog Anonymously And Maintain Control Of Your Personal Privacy - Guide
If you want to cover sensitive issues on your blog, or just keep unwanted readers off your content, here are some specific guidelines on how to blog anonymously while maintaining greater control of your personal privacy. How_to_blog_anonimously_id_size485.jpg Photo credit: Slobodan Vasic As whistleblowing bloggers keep reporting on stories often ignored by mainstream media, more and more working bloggers do get fired for what they write inside their blogs. How do you then, under such circumstances, protect your content from too curious explorers while making it accessible only to selected people? Hide your IP address, blog anonimously, avoid Google indexing like poison. Keeping your privacy defenses high does not require you to be a geek anymore. To blog anonymously and to keep undesired readers away from your unvetted thoughts, put to use some of these simple privacy precautions. Here's what to do:

How to Blog Safely (About Work or Anything Else)

by Electronic Frontier Foundation


Blogs are like personal telephone calls crossed with newspapers. They're the perfect tool for sharing your favorite chocolate mousse recipe with friends - or for upholding the basic tenets of democracy by letting the public know that a corrupt government official has been paying off your boss. If you blog, there are no guarantees you'll attract a readership of thousands. But at least a few readers will find your blog, and they may be the people you'd least want or expect. These include potential or current employers, coworkers, and professional colleagues; your neighbors; your spouse or partner; your family; and anyone else curious enough to type your name, email address or screen name into Google or Feedster and click a few links. The point is that anyone can eventually find your blog if your real identity is tied to it in some way. And there may be consequences. Family members may be shocked or upset when they read your uncensored thoughts. A potential boss may think twice about hiring you. But these concerns shouldn't stop you from writing. Instead, they should inspire you to keep your blog private, or accessible only to certain trusted people. Here EFF offers a few simple precautions to help you maintain control of your personal privacy so that you can express yourself without facing unjust retaliation. If followed correctly, these protections can save you from embarrassment or just plain weirdness in front of your friends and coworkers.

Blog Anonymously

how_to_blog_anonimously_blogging_id29154411.jpg The best way to blog and still preserve some privacy is to do it anonymously. But being anonymous isn't as easy as you might think. Let's say you want to start a blog about your terrible work environment but you don't want to risk your boss or colleagues discovering that you're writing about them. You'll want to consider how to anonymize every possible detail about your situation. And you may also want to use one of several technologies that make it hard for anyone to trace the blog back to you.

1. Use a Pseudonym and Don't Give Away Any Identifying Details

How_to_blog_anonimously_pseudonym_id6852301.jpg When you write about your workplace, be sure not to give away telling details. These include things like where you're located, how many employees there are, and the specific sort of business you do. Even general details can give away a lot. If, for example, you write, "I work at an unnamed weekly newspaper in Seattle," it's clear that you work in one of two places. So be smart. Instead, you might say that you work at a media outlet in a mid-sized city. Obviously, don't use real names or post pictures of yourself. And don't use pseudonyms that sound like the real names they're based on--so, for instance, don't anonymize the name "Annalee" by using the name "Leanne." And remember that almost any kind of personal information can give your identity away - you may be the only one at your workplace with a particular birthday, or with an orange tabby. Also, if you are concerned about your colleagues finding out about your blog, do not blog while you are at work. Period. You could get in trouble for using company resources like an Internet connection to maintain your blog, and it will be very hard for you to argue that the blog is a work-related activity. It will also be much more difficult for you to hide your blogging from officemates and IT operators who observe traffic over the office network.

2. Use Anonymizing Technologies

how_to_blog_anonimously_anonimyzing_technology_id35739271.jpg There are a number of technical solutions for the blogger who wishes to remain anonymous. is a service that offers anonymous blog hosting for free. You may create a blog there with no real names attached. Even the people who run the service will not have access to your name. If you are worried that your blog-hosting service may be logging your unique IP address and thus tracking what computer you're blogging from, you can use the anonymous network Tor to edit your blog. Tor routes your Internet traffic through what's called an "overlay network" that hides your IP address. More importantly, Tor makes it difficult for snoops on the Internet to follow the path your data takes and trace it back to you. For people who want something very user-friendly, offers a product called "Anonymous Surfing," which routes your Internet traffic through an anonymizing server and can hide your IP address from the services hosting your blog.

3. Use Ping Servers

how_to_blog_anonimously_ping_id29229171.jpg If you want to protect your privacy while getting news out quickly, try using ping servers to broadcast your blog entry for you. Pingomatic is a tool that allows you to do this by broadcasting to a lot of news venues at once, while making you untraceable. The program will send out notice (a "ping") about your blog entry to several blog search engines like Feedster and Technorati. Once those sites list your entry (which is usually within a few minutes) you can take the entry down. Thus the news gets out rapidly and its source can evaporate within half an hour. This protects the speaker while also helping the blog entry reach people fast.

4. Limit Your Audience

how_to_blog_anonimously_limit_audience_id184705.jpg Many blogging services, including LiveJournal, allow you to designate individual posts or your entire blog as available only to those who have the password, or to people whom you've designated as friends. If your blog's main goal is to communicate to friends and family, and you want to avoid any collateral damage to your privacy, consider using such a feature. If you host your own blog, you can also set it up to be password-protected, or to be visible only to people looking at it from certain computers.

5. Don't Be Googleable

how_to_blog_anonimously_google_not_found.jpg If you want to exclude most major search engines like Google from including your blog in search results, you can create a special file that tells these search services to ignore your domain. The file is called robots.txt, or a Robots Text File. You can also use it to exclude search engines from gaining access to certain parts of your blog. If you don't know how to do this yourself, you can use the "Robots Text File Generator" tool for free at Web Tool Central (Update: the resource indicated is not yet available, try this free service from instead). However, it's important to remember that search engines like Google may choose to ignore a robots.txt file, thus making your blog easily searchable. There are many tools and tricks for making your blog less searchable, without relying on robots.txt.

6. Register Your Domain Name Anonymously

how_to_blog_anonimously_register_id22242621.jpg Even if you don't give your real name or personal information in your blog, people can look up the WHOIS records for your domain name and find out who you are. If you don't want anyone to do this, consider registering your domain name anonymously. The Online Policy Group (OPG) offers privacy-protective domain name registration at

Blog Without Getting Fired

how_to_blog_anonimously_fired_id777534.jpg A handful of bloggers have recently discovered that their labors of love may lead to unemployment. By some estimates, dozens of people have been fired for blogging, and the numbers are growing every day. The bad news is that in many cases, there is no legal means of redress if you've been fired for blogging. While your right to free speech is protected by the First Amendment, this protection does not shield you from the consequences of what you say. The First Amendment protects speech from being censored by the government; it does not regulate what private parties (such as most employers) do. In states with "at will" employment laws like California, employers can fire you at any time, for any reason. And no state has laws that specifically protect bloggers from discrimination, on the job or otherwise. One way to make sure your blog doesn't earn you a pink slip is to make sure that you write about certain protected topics. Most states have laws designed to prevent employers from firing people who talk openly about their politics outside of work, for example. Be warned that laws like this do vary widely from state to state, and many are untested when it comes to blogging.

1. Political Opinions

how_to_blog_anonimously_political_opinions_id129092.jpg Many states, including California, include sections in their Labor Code that prohibit employers from regulating their employees' political activities and affiliations, or influencing employees' political activities by threatening to fire them. If you blog about membership in the Libertarian Party and your boss fires you for it, you might very well have a case against him or her.

2. Unionizing

how_to_blog_anonimously_anonymous_blogging_id30943861.jpg In many states, talking or writing about unionizing your workforce is strongly protected by the law, so in many cases blogging about your efforts to unionize will be safe. Also, if you are in a union, it's possible that your contract may have been negotiated in a way that permits blogging. Some states protect "concerted" speech about the workplace, which means that if two or more people start a blog discussing the conditions in their workplace, this activity could be protected under local labor laws.

3. Whistleblowing

how_to_blog_anonimously_whistleblowers_id11442091.jpg Often there are legal shields to protect whistleblowers - people who expose the harmful activities of their employers for the public good. However, many people have the misconception that if you report the regulatory violations (of, say, toxic emissions limits) or illegal activities of your employer in a blog, you're protected. But that isn't the case. You need to report the problems to the appropriate regulatory or law enforcement bodies first. You can also complain to a manager at your company. But notify somebody in authority about the sludge your company is dumping in the wetlands first, then blog about it.

4. Reporting on Your Work For The Government

how_to_blog_anonimously_government_id842946.jpg If you work for the government, blogging about what's happening at the office is protected speech under the First Amendment. It's also in the public interest to know what's happening in your workplace, because citizens are paying you with their tax dollars. Obviously, do not post classified or confidential information.

5. Legal Off-Duty Activities

how_to_blog_anonimously_off-duty_id537770.jpg Some states have laws that may protect an employee or applicant's legal off-duty blogging, especially if the employer has no policy or an unreasonably restrictive policy with regard to off-duty speech activities. For example, California has a law protecting employees from "demotion, suspension, or discharge from employment for lawful conduct occurring during nonworking hours away from the employer's premises." These laws have not been tested in a blogging context. If you are terminated for blogging while off-duty, you should contact an employment attorney to see what rights you may have.

Blog Without Fear

how_to_blog_anonimously_without_fear_id25193621.jpg Blogs are getting a lot of attention these days. You can no longer safely assume that people in your offline life won't find out about your blog, if you ever could. New RSS tools and services mean that it's even easier than ever search and aggregate blog entries. As long as you blog anonymously and in a work-safe way, what you say online is far less likely to come back to hurt you.

Additional Resources on How to Blog Anonymously

Originally written by the Electronic Frontier Foundation team and first published on May 31st 2005 as "How to Blog Safely (About Work or Anything Else)"

About the author EFF_thumbnail.jpg The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) is a donor-funded, nonprofit organization founded back in 1990 dedicated to defend free speech, privacy, innovation, and consumer rights on the Web.

Photo credits: Blog Anonymously - tombaky Use a Pseudonym and Don't Give Away Any Identifying Details - Richard Thomas Use Anonymizing Technologies - depo881 Use Ping Servers - tombaky edited by Daniele Bazzano Limit Your Audience - Harris Shiffman Register Your Domain Name Anonymously - Alexey Pinchuk Blog Without Getting Fired - simonkr Political Opinions - Juli?n Rovagnati Unionizing - Jiri Kabele Whistleblowing - OtnaYdur Reporting on Your Work For The Government- adkok Legal Off-Duty Activities - lincolnrog Blog Without Fear - Vitalik
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