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build an audience through involvement

By on Aug 31, 2006 in academic studies, citizen journalism, social software | 1 comment

Not long ago, The Bivings Report published the results of a newspaper study they’d done. Myself and a number of bloggers picked up on the fact that applying the same analysis to newspapers in different countries would make it possible to make interesting comparisons across nations and markets. Mark Glaser at MediaShift did a nice job of congratulating us all for our application of networked journalism, the Jarvisian term for citizen journalism. Now those clever people at Bivings are at it again. First the posted their 9 Ways for Newspapers to Improve Their Websites and today they’ve posted a new 18 point list that includes a round-up of suggestions from readers. Networked journalism, open source reporting, distributed research, group blogging – whatever you want to call it, Bivings is doing a good job of demonstrating that content created in this way is much more compelling than individual non-linked-up efforts AND it’s also a great way to build an audience. Nicely...

8 ways to improve technorati

By on Aug 31, 2006 in blogging, blogging techniques, social software | 4 comments

Like most people who take blogging fairly seriously, I use technorati to keep track of people linking to cybersoc.com. It’s not just a matter of vanity* (remember egosurf?), it helps me stay involved in what Jarvis and others call "the conversation". Technorati is a good tool, but there are a few improvements and new features I’d really like to see: 1. location specific blog searches – I don’t just want to find blogs discussing politics generally, I might want to find one discussing politics in my ward of my small city 2. a recommendation engine that tells me something like "blogs like this linked to blogs that linked to you" at a glance 3. some sort of graphical representation of where my blog sits within the blogosphere as a whole, based on links, as well as for certain key words 4. the ability to see how my blog has gained or lost ranking over periods of time 5. the ability to see – and I think this is the real killer feature – what similarities there are (content, tags, time posted, sites linked to from post, etc) between my most linked to (and least linked to) posts 6. improvements to link weighting –  When I link to a blog from a post, I’m saying "look at this piece of content over here". I link because it helps me make my point. When I add a link to the right or left nav of my site, it’s a much more permanent link than one just dropped into a post. It’s like me saying "look at this site, it’s good" in a way that’s much more like an endorsement of that site and it’s content as being ALWAYS of high quality or interest. The latter of these should be, I think, weighted more highly than a link from an individual post. 7. explain somewhere, anywhere, why the link count used in the ranking of a blog never seems to match the one below, where users can toggle between link freshness and authority (in my case it’s 665 links vs 785 – a vast gulf) 8. how about creating something that completely replaces trackback and can be embedded into a blog’s template, a sort of in blog list of the most recent technorati results for that post, to help drive traffic through to the bits of conversation happening elsewhere (this may alerady be possible using other blogging platforms?) Get those 8 bits into technorati and you’ve got a far more interesting and useful service for bloggers. * Ok, it is *sometimes* about vanity – like when I point out that cybersoc.com has just entered the technorati top 10,000 (9937 to be exact). bookmark this post: del.icio.us l Digg l Furl l ma.gnolia l Newsvine l reddit l Yahoo MyWeb l Track with...

can you identify this dog?

By on Aug 30, 2006 in mobile | 1 comment

pictures of the family of the person who stole my cell phone Originally uploaded by benvolut. I just came across this post from a guy who had his mobile stolen and suddenly found photos appearing, apparently taken by the person who stole it, in his flickr stream: My cell phone was stolen last Friday. I had it disconnected and arranged to get a replacement. It had been set up with the excellent service from ShoZu to automatically upload all pictures taken with the phone to Flickr. So today, completely surprisingly, I find pictures on my Flickr account of the family of the person who took the phone. I’m not sure they knew what was happening (they replaced the SIM card with their own, clearly, but probably didn’t notice ShoZu)… (Thanks to Richard at...

how I got kicked out of google adsense

By on Aug 30, 2006 in activism, citizen journalism, Data Protection Act, law | 11 comments

Yesterday I received an email from Google Adsense telling me that I had been kicked out of the programme. I’ve been using Adsense to monetize my blog and other websites for about a year now and have been pleased with the results. Not only did it pay for typepad, hosting of the old site, and my monthly broadband bill it also sometimes generated a little bit of a surplus which I was able to use to do things like give away a free flickr pro account and help pay for the wemedia fringe venue. I’d link to the posts but I can’t currently find them on my own site because Google has deactivated my site search too. I appealed by following a link in the original email from google and today I got back this response to my appeal: …After receiving your response, we re-reviewed your account data thoroughly. We have reconfirmed that invalid clicks were generated on the ads on your site in violation of our Terms and Conditions and programme policies… Fair enough – if they’d simply provide some evidence – but they haven’t. Not one shred. Not a single indication of why I was kicked out of the adsense programme. I’ve got a few ideas why I might have been kicked out. The first of which is unexplainable, at least by me: I had a look at my adsense revenue for the month of August the other day and it was indeed higher than for the previous month. I reckon there would have been, by the end of August, a 200% increase month on month from July to August. I didn’t click ads on my own site at anytime but it is, of course, entirely possible that some idiot sat there clicking ads – nothing to do with me and google should be able to, if this happened, supply me with some IP address or something as evidence. It’s possible that I did, many months ago, violate the terms and conditions of the programme but it was a long time ago and I really don’t think they’d come after me for it now: Around 9 months ago I posted the amount I’d made through google adsense for the month in an attempt to be transparent about this. I realised that this was a grey area of the terms and conditions (I didn’t disclose the click through ratio) and stopped doing this. I also recently made a slight change to the way my google search works although I figured this was fine – maybe mistakenly: I recently installed a thing called "blogbar" on my site. It’s that nice looking search box in the top right corner. I installed this after I had noticed the increased ad revenue for the month so it didn’t directly contribute to that. Within about two days of installing blogbar, my adsense account was closed. Blogbar has extensive information on integrating their blog widget with adsense so I assumed they’d taken the time to sort things out with Google, but had they and, if not, is this the reason I got kicked out of Adsense? I’m sending blogbar a link to this post so watch the commentspace below… And finally, I might not have done anything wrong but, instead, have been the victim of a malicious attack: A couple of months ago I blogged about a spam blog that was republishing my content and my attempts to get it shut down by contacting it’s ISP, domain name host and google adsense. I hate to sound paranoid – but maybe I should be. That’s all I can think of but, as I wrote above, I honestly don’t know why I got kicked out of adsense because Google won’t tell me. So can I force them to? I’m going to try to use the Data Protection Act (alternatively see this pdf on your rights under the DPA) to force Google to disclose what information they hold on me and how that information is used. I’ll let you know how I get on with that. If anyone has other ideas as to how I can find out what, if any, evidence of wrong-doing google might have with regards to my adsense account, do get in touch. In the meantime, I’ve switched over to Swicki for my site search and I’m looking for some other way to pay for typepad, and cover my hosting costs and broadband access. It’s not a huge amount of money but I think it’s worth trying to keep the blog paying for itself if at all possible. Let me know if you have some ideas (like...

flickr roles out geotagging

By on Aug 30, 2006 in location based services, mobile, social software | 1 comment

Last month I got a Nokia N70 with Co-Pilot software and a bluetooth GPS reciever. Of course, I needed to test it’s accuracy so I dragged the family off to Greenwich Observatory, home of the Greenwich Mean Line. That’s 0 degrees longitude for those who have yet to dabble in the strange world of geo-tagging. From the start I was disappointed that the phone couldn’t automatically geo-tag photos. I have tried to use ZoneTag from Yahoo Research but can’t get it working. Tom Coates doesn’t seem to have any problems so maybe it’s just me. To add insult to injury, my digital SLR doesn’t have GPS built in (do any?), nor does it have bluetooth or wifi so it can’t talk with my external GPS reciever. So what to do if I want to geotag stuff? Well, until now I could go to google maps and find the location, then grab the latitude and longitude and add it to the tags of my photos on flickr. Now, thanks to flickr’s new geotagging feature, I can just go to the photo organizr and add geo data to my photos. It’s not quite the same as them automatically getting tagged but it’s better than the old way. Then when someone visits my photo stream, they can click the map tab under a photo that has been geotagged and view it on a map, a satellite image, or a hybrid. To the left is an example of the photo above which I tagged with the locational data. Part of the fun of flickr is meeting other flickr users who have taken photos of similar subjects, or in the same places, as you have. Using the new geotagging features, it’s possible to see "everyone’s photos" from a specific area. I had a look to see what other photos have been posted from the area around Greenwich: Pretty cool results and, I think, quite useful if used by communities or groups to photo-plot landscapes, create tourist maps, etc. Flickr users seem to think it’s a great idea too – flickr expected a million photos to be tagged in a month, maybe within a few weeks, but over 1.2 million were tagged on the first day alone. Try it now before the servers grind to a...