Matt Baume

Writer and photographer in San Francisco, specializing in media, LGBT issues, and the environment.


mrpotatohead

Meet VidCaster: The Mr. Potato Head of video platforms

Is VidCaster a platform, a publishing medium, or a type of glue? It can be hard to wrap your head around just what it is, and more importantly, what it means for news.

The company, headquartered in San Francisco, makes it easy to create a video site. Under its hood, Vidcaster handles most of the technical widgets and pipes of modern online video, from encoding to distribution to ad sales.

Currently, a handful of news organizations — none of which were ready to be identified — are cautiously exploring VidCaster. Online video journalism is a notoriously risky business, with numerous high-profile failures in recent years.

But as journalists continue to probe this new frontier, other communications companies are finding success. And as nonprofits, seminars, students, and entertainers map out the future of online video, they may blaze a trail that journalists could follow.

So, what is it?

VidCaster is to YouTube as self-hosted WordPress is to Blogger.com. Read more

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Storify’s best uses turn news into conversations

Mid-term elections, cities crippled by snow, a homicide epidemic, and hundreds of bicycles materializing in the middle of late-night traffic — they’re not just news stories, they’re ongoing experiences.

That led Burt Herman, a former AP bureau chief and correspondent, to re-evaluate the way that news organizations research and assemble their stories. The result is Storify, a tool that allows editors and reporters to integrate social media into their stories faster and more interactively than ever before.

Rather than copying and pasting status updates, tweets, and Flickr photos, reporters can use Storify to rapidly compile dynamic social media elements that readers can retweet or reply to by clicking within an article.

It was the unfolding, increasingly citizen-reported nature of contemporary news events that inspired Herman to create the tool, along with co-founder Xavier Damman.

Rather than limit a story to a single report or punctuated series of updates, they wanted a format that accommodated the branching, interactive nature of social media. Read more

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hackshackers

Journalism emerging technology showcase focuses on right time, right place content

Could 2011 be journalism’s Year of Context? A showcase of emerging news technology in San Francisco highlighted four start-ups that specialize in placing content where it makes the most sense.

The show-and-tell was hosted by Hacks/Hackers, an informal group of journalists and coders who blur the boundaries between news and technology. Read more

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10 Ways to Attract Younger News Consumers

Won’t somebody please think of the children? Well, OK, maybe not the children — but young people, at least.

That’s just what Christopher Sopher has done with his research project, “Younger Thinking.” It’s a meta-analysis of available data about the relationship between the news industry and its up-and-coming consumers. Sopher, a senior studying public policy at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, can relate to much of his findings as a young journalist and news consumer.

After poring though dozens of studies on people born between 1980 and 1996, Sopher compiled an extensive list of findings that, on occasion, confirm stereotypes. It’s no shock that 21-year-olds turn to Facebook for information more than 71-year-olds do, after all.

But other discoveries are more arresting: there’s a significant gap between young peoples’ interest in the news and their consumption of it, suggesting that youngsters expect news to find them, rather than the other way around. Read more

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YouTube Connects San Francisco TV Station with Citizen Journalists

There’s a brand new videographer at KGO-TV in San Francisco: you.

As part of its ongoing “uReport” effort to solicit user-submitted content, the ABC station is now working directly with YouTube and taking advantage of its YouTube Direct technology, which lets news sites request, review and re-broadcast user-generated videos.

The experimental partnership, which launched in late July, is aimed at marrying the editorial acumen of a traditional newsroom with the user-generated immediacy of online video. At the heart of the experiment is a video pipeline with enormous breadth, from viewers to independent local media organizations to YouTube to KGO.

When people visit KGO’s site, they’re presented with a familiar YouTube-style uploading interface. The videos that users submit are added to their own personal YouTube accounts, just as they would be if they uploaded them to YouTube.com. The difference is that the videos are also placed in a pipeline for KGO to review. Read more

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7 Ways to Use Facebook to Merge News with the Social Web

Although many news organizations know they should incorporate Facebook into their social media strategies, so far they’ve had to rely on independent consultants to tell them what works. This week, however, Facebook outlined best practices on how news organizations can connect with the site’s enormous and highly engaged user base.

The findings are the result of a several-month long study by an internal team that examined Facebook usage at major news organizations such as CNN, The New York Times, and Univision.

Because Facebook boasts 500 million active monthly users and an average monthly time-on-site of around seven hours, integrating Facebook into your site could translate into substantial additional traffic. Tools such as Like buttons, Activity Streams and LiveStream can keep users clicking through stories on a site. And the Insights analytics tool provides valuable demographic information.

After implementing various combinations of Facebook tools on their sites, ABC News saw a 190 percent increase in referral traffic, Life magazine’s referrals increased by 130 percent, Scribd’s user registrations went up by 50 percent, and Dailymotion saw as many as 250,000 users engaged with a single video. Read more

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How the Semantic Web Can Connect News and Make Stories More Accessible

Tom Tague isn’t content to let an article just be an article. “How do I take a chunk of text,” he asked, “and turn it into a chunk of data?”

He was speaking Thursday night at a panel discussion hosted by Hacks/Hackers, a San Francisco-based group that bridges the worlds of journalism and engineering. Coinciding with the 2010 Semantic Technology Conference, Thursday’s presentation dealt with the Web’s evolution from a tangle of text to a database capable of understanding its own content.

Tague, vice president for platform strategy with Thompson Reuters, was joined by New York Times Semantic Technologist Evan Sandhaus, allVoices CEO Amra Tareen, and Read It Later creator Nate Weiner. The semantic Web is already here, they explained; and it’s getting smarter.

Make news worth more

Simply put, the semantic Web is a strategy for enabling communication between independent databases on the Web. Read more

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Code Sprint Yields Important Lessons for iPad News Apps

At a conference last weekend for developers of iPad news apps, organizer Burt Herman posed an unexpected question: “How can we make news more like finger-painting?” he asked.

He was responding to a point made by Jennifer Bove of Kicker Studio, a product-design firm. She had just pointed out how satisfying it is to manipulate media on the iPad, comparing it to painting. “It’s as close as we can get to a tangible experience in a digital world,” she said.

Herman is the founder of Hacks/Hackers, which began last November as an informal means to connect journalists (hacks) with engineers (hackers). A veteran journalist and John S. Knight fellow at Stanford, he sought to foster innovation by connecting the two worlds.

This weekend’s conference, Hacks/Hackers Unite, was attended by nearly 100 reporters, editors, designers, programmers, and future-of-journalism enthusiasts. Half programming boot camp and half journalism immersion, the event was intense and ambitious, and by the end of the second day, a dozen teams had each developed a new app to push the boundaries of news and media on the iPad. Read more

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