Monthly Archives: November 2004

Now everyone really is a journalist

I’m very excited to hear that the creators of Wikipedia* are to move into news. Even at this early stage the demo of Wikinews looks like it could be very useful, with ‘citizen reporters’ able to report, edit and discuss current events. The discussion of the site itself makes particularly interesting (if bizarre at times) reading.

More comment on blogsperiment.

*Wikipedia is already a fantastic online resource for those wanting an expert and up to date encyclopedia. One of those ideas that makes the most of the net’s potential, it’s a free online encyclopedia that anyone can edit, so of course it evolves over time and with people’s additions and corrections. Less well-known are sister sites Wiktionary, Wikisource, and others accessible from the Meta-Wiki page.

Open government on the web

Good to see that, while the print and broadcast media may often be cowed by the government, the WWW can at least enable a citizen to hold the government to account – or so says this thoroughly informative article in Wired News, which includes dozens of very helpful links. Sadly they’re all American, so once again I’m left looking for a British equivalent…

Meanwhile, over here the Institute of Public Policy Research has suggested that online communities could encourage public debate and build trust, according to the BBC. Interestingly, the suggestion comes on the Manifesto for a Digital Britain blog, set up by the IPPR and where you can post your own comments (or indeed subscribe for updates). If only more government thinking was done this way.

The wonders of RSS

It seems little icons are springing up alongside my blog like Christmas decorations. A week ago I added myself to Technorati (the benefits of which – other than having my really quite strange image on one more webpage – I’m still not entirely clear on), and now I have a proud Bloglines badge to go with it.

Now the benefits of Bloglines are a little clearer. Once you’ve registered, if you see a nice blog (say, this one), you click on my lovely new button and it’s added to your list of feeds (or, if there’s no button, you can use this clever feature to subscribe anyway). What does this mean? Well, effectively you’re creating your own news website (there’s that Daily Me again – I’ve already decided to set it as my homepage.). Every time you log onto Bloglines you get a list of blogs down the left hand column, complete with the number of postings added since you last checked. You click to see those new postings.

Now this is very similar to RSS Reader, another nifty bit of software I’ve been using for some time. You install it, select which ‘feeds’ you’re interested in, and how often you want an update. Then, say twice a day, a little window appears in the bottom right corner of your screen with a list of the latest headlines.

And this is where I come back to Technorati. Now that I’m a ‘member’, I can subscribe to my blog watchlist through them. This is basically a list of any sites that link to mine (as long as they’re a Technorati member). So if you want to know who’s linking to your blog, or indeed any blog you like, log into Technorati, click on Settings, and in the ‘Add a Watchlist’ box type the address of the blog in question. Click ‘Create’ to generate a URL, switch to RSS Reader, click on the + sign, and paste the address into the window that appears.

And one more button has appeared since I began writing this post: My Yahoo! now incorporates syndication too.

An American response to Creationism

As The Most Powerful Country On Earth (TM) becomes more strangely gripped by religious fundamentalism, and insists on science textbooks including a disclaimer that suggests religious alternatives to the theory of evolution, at least we can assuage our mild terror by looking at witty responses like this one. Also contains a useful link to a survey that found only a third of Americans believe Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution. And to think these people have the right to bear arms written into their consistitution…

(I shouldn’t mock. The CIA may be listening in.)

Online journalism ‘not good enough’

Organisers of the 2005 British Press Awards have said for the second year running that they will not be making awards in the categories for best online news site and best online journalist. Apparently this is because they attract too few entries, and the standard of entries is not high enough. Someone should show them the Guardian and BBC’s best work, which has been winning awards in America.