Monthly Archives: December 2007

“Twitter shovelware”: from 0 to 1,600 search results in six days

Here’s a bizarre example of just how connected the internet is. Six days ago I wrote a post about some Twitter experiments, and half-jokingly coined the phrase “Twitter shovelware“. I did a Google search at the time on the phrase to confirm that, indeed, the phrase threw up zero results.

On Monday, the piece was cross-posted at Poynter’s E-Media Tidbits, and today, arrived in my inbox as part of their mailing list. So I decided to click on that link to the Google search to see, six days on, how many webpages had used the phrase and been catalogued by Google’s spiders.

Twitter shovelware

I expected maybe ten or so – but 1,590?

Browsing through the results, it’s a very strong illustration of some truths about the internet. We are more networked, and digital reproduction is easier and more automated, than we realise. After the obvious results there are:

And all this from a minor blog post that has only been viewed a fraction of 1,600 times. 

PS: At least one of those pages is the web equivalent of falling trees that only make a sound if someone is there to hear them, i.e. pages that are dynamically created only when someone clicks on a link to them, or at least is unlikely to ever be seen by human eyes. More food for thought.

UPDATE, JAN 2 2008: Three weeks on, the phrase now produces 26,000 results. Incredible.

Online journalism atlas: Iceland (by Liz Bridgen)

In the latest part of the Online Journalism Atlas, Liz Bridgen looks at the online media scene in Iceland. Got any information about your own country’s online journalism? Add it here.

As the country with the world’s deepest penetration of internet use (86.3% of the population) and highest literacy rate (around 99%), it’s no surprise that Iceland should have a buoyant online media scene.

The print, broadcast and online environment

Iceland’s population of just over 300,000 have a choice of three national Icelandic-language newspapers – all with online editions – plus several domestic English-language titles aimed dually at tourists and the growing útlendingur (foreigner) population. Continue reading

Job ad: Online Community Manager for Knight Foundation

Marc Fest, the Director of Communications at the Knight Foundation, tells me they are seeking a “digital media maven” to create for Knight “a vibrant online discussion community focused on journalism excellence, communities and issues of systemic change.” And they’ve asked for my assistance in finding that person.

Happy to oblige – here’s the info, plus an old-fashioned Word attachment with more info: Continue reading


Melissa Edwards takes a look at community journalism/activism site FreshTies 

What do they say it is?

FreshTies main aim is to encourage individuals, charities and businesses alike to actively participate in their local community. It gives individuals the chance to swap things, find local news and ways to help their community; buinesses the chance to promote their services, news to classifieds and initiatives;charities the chance to reach more people for support, resources and funds. It gives budding journalists/writers in need of experience, and those who would like a higher profile, the opportunity to write about their local community in various roles, as editor, reporter or features writer on local content, as well as content for a national audience.” Continue reading

Some conflicting lessons on journalism ethics re: forums, social networks, mailing lists and blogs

A recent discussion on the NUJ New Media mailing list prompted me to jot down some thoughts on the current private-public confusion thrown up by online communication channels. I think some education is required here on both sides.

Lesson 1: It’s public. Whatever you may think about codes of conducts, etc. etc. if you say something on a forum you should be aware that it may be quoted, that it may be indexed by search engines, databases, etc and potentially findable. You cannot rely on people’s good manners. So be careful what you say, or be prepared to stand by what you say.

Lesson 2: It’s private. Journalists got a lot of flak for wandering into blogs and forums after Virginia Tech because they saw it as being ‘in the public domain’ and therefore ethical (Tony Harcup had this view when I spoke to him at the time). But people using those platforms have a different view of what is ‘public domain’. So be courteous and sensitive.

An addendum: legal issues are still to be resolved around much of this. Employers and lecturers who look at people’s social networking profiles could be breaking the law; Facebook ads might be doing the same.

This post is part of a ‘blog carnival’. Read more at

Twitter shovelware and other microblogging experiments

This post is part of a ‘blog carnival’. Read more at The story so far (in updates of 140 characters or less):

  1. I set up a Twitter account, toy with it for a few minutes, then ignore it.
  2. Months later, I return to my Twitter account to cover the Future of Newspapers conference – a perfect use for the technology.
  3. Following a tip from Martin Stabe, I use Twitterfeed to push my blog’s posts – and, equally importantly, comments – to my Twitter page, in the process probably doubling the total amount of ‘tweets’ overnight.
  4. At the same time, Martin comes at it from a different angle, and pushes his Twitter posts to his blog.
  5. Realise I am guilty of ‘Twitter-shovelware’
  6. Feel privately chuffed at inventing the phrase ‘Twitter-shovelware
  7. Think of a better use for Twitterfeed, and create a new Twitter account for my bookmarks tagged ‘onlinejournalism’. It already has an RSS feed, but feeding it to Twitter allows people to receive it on their mobiles or as a ‘river’ on their Twitter page.
  8. Realise I will probably annoy people who have to delete ten texts every day I do some bookmarking.
  9. Getting even more carried away, I realise I can also use Twitterfeed to create an aggregation of the 70+ online journalism-related RSS feeds I subscribe to.
  10. Decide to use Yahoo! Pipes as part of this, which has been on my ‘To Do’ list since May.
  11. Discover that Yahoo! Pipes not only generates an RSS feed, but also options for mobile and email alerts.
  12. But the process of setting up those alerts is not as usable as Twitter, so set up the Twitter ojblogaggregator account anyway (there are only around 20 feeds included so far, but will continue to add more as I iron out bugs).
  13. Also discover three other ‘online journalism’ Pipes, one of which has been created by a former student. Feel proud.
  14. Then realise he never finished it. Feel proud regardless.
  15. Also realise I can use ‘View Source’ to build on the work of the other OJ aggregator – and that anyone can do the same to build on mine.
  16. Result!

Online journalism atlas: Germany (by Lorenz Lorenz-Meyer)

In the third part of the Online Journalism Atlas, Lorenz Lorenz-Meyer looks at how the news industry in Germany first went online, the German blogosphere, online journalism education, and – well, it’s a very comprehensive overview indeed. Got any information about your own country’s online journalism? Add it here.


Germany’s online journalism had a pretty good start in the mid-90s. News magazine DER SPIEGEL was among the first to use the proprietary online service Compuserve for pre-publishing its weekly title story and some extracts, as well as providing discussion space for their readers’ feedback. On Compuserve they hosted the first public chat with a politician, the then prime minister of the eastern German state of Saxonia, Kurt Biedenkopf (an event that made it to the front page of Wall Street Journal). Continue reading

Review: Yoosk?
What do they say it is?

Yoosk is a news interplay magazine and community where you, the members are the reporters. Put your questions directly to politicians and celebrities and watch those questions gain support as other Yoosk members vote for them. Our pledge to you is that any question which reaches 100 votes will be submitted by us to the person involved and we will do our best to get an answer” Continue reading

Review: ScribbleSheet (by Darcy Vergara)


What do they say it is?

ScribbleSheet is about people expressing their opinions. It’s for people who have something to say but do not have the time to maintain a blog, or a job at their local newspaper. These opinions go unheard. ScribbleSheet wants to give everyday citizen journalism a home by making writing an article as simple as composing an email. Continue reading

Three lessons about Twitter/microblogging

Amy Gahran is learning about microblogging the Total Community Coverage in Cyberspace (some interesting reflections – well worth reading), which gave me a perfect reminder to finally publish a post I wrote in draft form a month or so back. So, for what it’s worth, here are three lessons I’ve learned about Twittering:

  1. Keep to a niche. If blogs are about niches, microblogging is about microniches. If you’re expecting people to put up with constant updates it’s got to be very specific. So, think Madeleine McCann, not ‘news headlines‘.
  2. Link to mobile-friendly pages if you can. When I get my Twitter updates from Press Gazette on my mobile phone and ‘click’ on the link, I get a very large designed-for-the-monitor page that I have to scroll down and across to read. I long ago stopped clicking on those links. If you’re giving tasters of your stories to people who may be viewing on their phones, you’re going to frustrate them if the full linked-to versions don’t use liquid designs or mobile stylesheets.
  3. Be part of the conversation. Martin Stabe has 114 followers; the publication he writes for has 66. Maybe it’s because Martin follows 92 other twitterers, whereas his publication (yes, Press Gazette again) only follows two (both members of staff).