Everyblock is the newest hyperlocal bellyflop.
Jeff Sonderman, NBC closes hyperlocal, data-driven publishing pioneer EveryBlock
NBC News has shut down EveryBlock, one of the early pioneers of data-driven hyperlocal community news and information.
The decision took effect today.
The site started under a $1.1 million grant in the first-ever Knight News Challenge in 2007.
After the conclusion of its Knight grant, EveryBlock was acquired by MSNBC in 2009and the data-driven site relaunched with a community focus in March 2011. Ownership transferred to NBC News last summer when it acquired full control of msnbc.com.
Founder Adrian Holovaty left the company last August. At the time, he reflected upon major points of impact, including jumpstarting movements toward open data and custom maps, strengthening neighborhoods in the 16 cities it served and releasing source code that inspired other projects.
Leaving the specifics of Everyblock to one side, its just another example of completely not understanding the intersection of local/social. Other examples: Outside.in (acquired by Patch), Patch (not yet shut down, but will be as soon as Arianna Huffington becomes CEO of AOL), Bayosphere (acquired by BackFence), and Backfence (now dead).
No one understands hyperlocal, yet.
This year’s study also includes special reports on the impact of mobile technology and social media on news. Those reports, which feature new survey data, finds that rather than replacing media consumption on digital devices, people who go mobile are getting news on all their devices. They also appear to be getting it more often, and reading for longer periods of time. For example, about a third, 34%, of desktop/laptop news consumers now also get news on a smartphone. About a quarter, 27%, of smartphone news consumers also get news on a tablet. These digital news omnivores are also a large percentage of the smart phone/tablet population. And most of those individuals (78%) still get news on the desktop or laptop as well.
A PEJ survey of more than 3,000 adults also finds that the reputation or brand of a news organization, a very traditional idea, is the most important factor in determining where consumers go for news, and that is even truer on mobile devices than on laptops or desktops. Indeed, despite the explosion in social media use through the likes of Facebook and Twitter, recommendations from friends are not a major factor yet in steering news consumption.
In the post-PC present, we have news up the ying, exploding out of all our devices like volcanic magma. But the Pew verbiage about who profits misses an essential point — typified by the ‘news consumption’ viewpoint they still espouse — we have moved away from audience-centered media to experience-centered media. The experience is what matters, so that’s why the value shifts to the tools we use to use information shaped by the news form factor. Using information is not equivalent to ‘consuming media’, but the media companies don’t get it.
The new media folks desperately want to write for some hypothetical audience, one they can find the center of. They are like border collies, wired to herd sheep and frantic if they can’t find any.
Read the full report.
Mathew Ingram, responding to new research from Pew, in If you have news, it will be aggregated and/or curated via GigaOM
- Tom Gerevan, Some best-guesses about what BuzzFeed is up to, and why it is in fact about Arianna, a little via Capital New York
Buzzfeed is trying to live in the stream, a liquid media play.
MG Siegler confesses that he and many other tech writers have been doing a piss-poor job:
MG Siegler, Content Everywhere, But Not A Drop To Drink via ParisLemon
Most of what is written about the tech world — both in blog form and old school media form — is bullshit. I won’t try to put some arbitrary label on it like 80%, but it’s a lot. There’s more bullshit than there is 100% pure, legitimate information.
The problem is systemic. Print circulation is dying and pageviews are all that matter in keeping advertisers happy. This means, whether writers like it or not, there’s an underlying drive for both sensationalism and more — more — more.
Read the stories that are published in the tech blogosphere tomorrow. Are most published because the writer put in a lot of work or original thought? No, most are published because more — more — more content leads to more — more — more pageviews.
Most are stories written with little or no research done. They’re written as quickly as possible. The faster the better. Most are just rehashing information that spread by some other means. But that’s great, it means stories can be written without any burden beyond the writer having to read a little bit and type words fast. Many are written without the writer even having to think.
I’m completely serious in saying that.
There will be 25 stories about Google TV or something else tomorrow which will all say basically the same thing. Maybe one or two of those stories will have actual insight or information. Maybe none will. If any do, it’s the exception, not the rule.
As one of the most prolific tech bloggers over the period of a few years, I was just as guilty of this as anyone. I had a job to do, and I did it. And to be honest, I saw absolutely nothing wrong with it at the time. And if you did, you just didn’t get it.
But now I have more perspective. I was wrong.
In a field of public discourse in which 80% of everything is bullshit, the value of enlightened curation and filtration goes up exponentially. Not 80% but 10,000%. Siegler is inadvertently making the case for ‘know your curator’, while pulling down the pants of the tech blogging world.
I will leave aside any deep analysis on Siegler’s change of heart, now that he isn’t another racetrack greyhound chasing a plastic rabbit, but I will simply observe that he was in on the fix at one of the most prominent tech sites — TechCrunch — whose outsized personalities and dramatic style perhaps was a sort of legerdemain, intended to take our eyes off what was being written, and to make themselves part of the new gonzo tech news cycle instead of thoughtfully reporting on it.
Curation is the new engagement:
Josh Sternberg via Digiday
Curation is the vogue digital term for the ability to not only aggregate and distribute carefully selected information, but also to provide a unique voice on top of the original pieces of information. In the age of Twitter and Facebook, it seems like all the world is curators now. Brands want in on the action.
Brands are trying to establish themselves as trusted sources of information. Hop onto Facebook, Twitter or Tumblr, and you’ll see brands that gather up articles from all sorts of publications and push them out to their followers. For example, look at IBM’s Tumblr, A Smarter Planet, which is a stream of curated content focused on areas of Big Blue’s core competencies. Or there’s American Express’ Open Forum Tumblr (yes, Tumblr is apparently a good platform for curation) that has cultivated a business community online by providing relevant tools and information to help business owners succeed.
“If a brand is an expert in a certain topic, their reputation might make them a credible source of information,” said Neil Chase, svp of editing and publishing at Federated Media. “But if a company that makes toasters gives health advice, they might not be credible. If they’re sending out recipes, that’s a reason to trust them.”
There’s little doubt that brands can amass sizable audiences of their own nowadays. Show me a chief marketing officer who isn’t interested in an owned, earned, paid media model — often in that order — and I’ve got a bridge in Brooklyn to sell you. It’s been four and a half years since Nike marketing chief Trevor Edwards plaintively said, “We’re not in the business of keeping media companies alive.” Translation: We can build direct connections with audiences, thank you very much.
The devil is in the details. Brands aren’t set up to be publishers. They don’t necessarily understand the editorial process or have the stomach for the length of time it takes to build an audience. Take AmEx’s OpenForum, for instance. It took four years to get 1 million people aboard, and now it gets about 150,000 unique visitors per month. They have the resources to build and cultivate an audience others may not. Additionally, OpenForum was put on the shoulders of the end-user: small-business owners. These business owners are able to communicate and share ideas with one another, but they must be American Express Cardmembers. AmEx recognized the need to provide small-business owners with a connection platform and information that will help their business succeed.
“Brands have a content story to tell,” said Colleen DeCourcy, CEO of Socialistic, a social media agency. “Some brands have data and research they have gathered in the creation of their products that can be contextualized and turned into content — which can give them both real authority on the topic and some real ROI for their effort.”
Publishing content in 2012 can be immensely complex or surprisingly simple, depending on your approach. Curation straddles the line. It can be difficult figuring out not only what tools to use, but also what platforms and, of course, what content to share. The plus side is that once you do figure out how you want to curate — how it becomes part of your broader communications strategy — it’s pretty easy to establish a voice.
Steve Rubel, Edelman’s evp of global strategy and insights, suggests brands start by having an editorial point of view and deciding where the content will live — the brand’s site or aggregation sites like Tumblr or Pinterest.
“The best way to do it is to identify a high-interest topic that you want to be perceived as an expert in,” he said. “Curate that topic and provide some context around it. If you’re curating a lot of content in a topic area, over time that leads to expertise and credibility.”
A few points: a curator must be able to tell the difference between great and good work (‘content’), and have a strong and insightful perspective. Great curators are usually people that have been doing it for some time. This is not something you take up on Monday and find yourself Friday with tens of thousands of followers.
Umair points out that the Emperor is wearing no clothes:
Umair Haque via
The promise of social technologies is to fundamentally reimagine and reboot yesterday’s crumbling institutions (and disempower the bumbling beancounters who run them). In political terms? They should be used — right now, right here, right this very second — to build a deeper democracy, one where via deliberation, citizens have a bottom-up impact on policy-making, which as it stands today is totally disconnected from and unresponsive to the general populace and unable to do much of anything about anything. They should be used to help ignite an authentic prosperity, by redrawing the boundaries of political freedom for the underprivileged and the powerless — and to blow apart a polity that protects and props up the privileged and the powerful.
What we don’t need is more of this: “People tuning out? Great — instead of actually improving stuff, hit ‘em with some marketing!!”
Sorry, Mr President: you’ve got the pundits, talking heads, and powers that be right where you want them (judging from the response you’ve gotten so far), but little old me? I’m not buying into your latest “campaign.” I’m not a “target.” I’m a citizen of a generation whose future is going up in smoke faster than you can say “credit default swaps.” And what you’re really telling me is this: in some parts of the world, social tools can fuel the revolutions that topple dictators. Here, in the nation that invented them? They’re used for marketing stunts.
Me? I’m not investing my time asking “questions” of a president who wants my “engagement” (Free today only! Get yours now!) yet seems totally, utterly disengaged with anyone not sartorially and financially gifted enough to wear a $7000 suit — “questions” that you know, I know, and my pet hamster knows will probably never have a hope in Hades of having an impact on anything except clogging up the cutting room floor.
There’s no possible way that President Obama is going to embrace a 21st century notion of ‘deeper democracy’. He’s a 20th century man, a moderate Republican leading the conservative wing of the Democratic party, and no firebrand techno-anarchist.
We’ll have to wait for some mutant to spring up, coming from outside the parties — and I don’t mean the Governor of some forgotten state out west — but a real populist, intent on a wholesale reconfiguration of the political system.
The most important part to read is their guide for reporting and how journos are using Twitter to find sources.
Jake Tapper from ABC News:
The way [Twitter has] been most useful is in terms of following people. I’ve been able to use it for reporting and to find sources. Last year when a health insurance company raised its premiums in California and it affected thousands of people, I didn’t know how to reach any of them, so I sent a Tweet out to my followers: “Is there anybody out there who is a customer of Anthem Blue cross who got their insurance premiums raised?”
@lemoneyes tweeted me that she had and so I followed her. I got her information through DM and then emailed her, we verified her situation and then we sent a camera crew to her. The next morning she was on ABC’s Good Morning America. There is no way I could have done that before.
Liquid media will liquefy all solid media.
JD Lasica concludes several weeks guest blogging at The Importance Of with a big question, one that I have been puzzling over recently: What will happen when we become the media?. He notes that the recent Gnomedex conference seemed a sort of turning point for the new media crowd:
As Adam Curry noted in his keynote, “We are the media.” There’s no doubt about that now.
The consequences of that for public discourse loom large. That’s why, as I wrote my book, I began focusing less on copyright law or the current bills before Congress and more on the long-term outlook for media culture.
The future of television is not about interactive commands that let you buy Jennifer Aniston’s sweater. It’s about putting a blasting cap to big media’s strangehold on our nightly viewing habits by opening up the television experience to the multitude of niche media that ordinary citizens are beginning to create.
The future of movies is not about digital delivery of Hollywood entertainment at the multiplex. It’s about instant access to Hollywood classics, new releases, indie fare and grassroots films, at any time, on any device.
The future of music is not about finding a silver-bullet DRM solution for secure delivery of megastar content. It’s about building new platforms for recommending and filtering thousands of new voices and creative talents that would never make it through the record labels’ sausage factory.
As the cost of the tools of media creativity continue to plummet and ease of use increases, millions more of us will begin taking part in the personal media revolution.
JD is, as usual, running ahead of the pack in his vision. There is going to be a long and painful transition as alternative media begin to supplant mainstream media in all of these areas.
As I first stated at Les Blogs in Paris, publishing companies will need to wise up to the fact that today’s writers — the bloggers en masse — are really a wave of artists, bringing back the ethics of art into written media. The reporter mindset of mainstream media is being jettisonned for something else, something better: I have taken to using the team “artisan journalism” to denote this new sort of writing. Investigative journalism is not dead, but the soulless reporting by know-nothings is going to be replaced by something better: front-line insight by deeply involved, committed, and knowledgeable commentators.
JD focuses our attention on the experience of those who will grow from couch potatohood into involved participants in a media revolution. At the same time, the role of media in society will shift at a profound level, since it will no longer serve only as a channel for the institutional media to push “content” into our lives, and “monetize eyeballs”: the socializing of media is transforming it into a shared place where we can find meaning and make sense of the world through active and authentic involvement.