It’s blogs week on our new Journalism Technologies module at the University of Huddersfield. And that means setting students up with their own professional blogs – from a menu of WordPress, Blogger and Medium – as well as the above lecture tracing the recent history of how the audience turned into something a bit more than that.
Putting the lecture together a few weeks ago, I was struck by how old hat it all seemed now. I made Web 2.0 the week’s key concept, but even as I was discussing it during Monday’s class, I was struggling to remember the last time I’d even had cause to say the term out loud. Blogs have been around long enough to have passed from flavour of the month to workmanlike part of internet furniture.
I actually spent the lecture and the practical workshops posing the question: why blog today? Basically as a way of justifying why I’m making each of the students do it for their first assessment this term. I still think blogging is hugely valuable, in particular for journalism students. It allows them to learn straightforward tools of online publishing and sharing, gives them a professional-looking online home, and even offers the more ambitious the chance to tinker with a bit of html around the edges of their customisable templates.
The danger is that students are encouraged to start a blog, but after they post once or twice, it just sort of withers, unloved and never updated. While it’s important for students to blog, the only thing worse than not bothering is doing so half-heartedly, as it hints at disengagement from the world the students want to enter after their courses. By the end of this first term everyone on the module will have a busy-looking blog with a series of (hopefully) interesting posts reflecting on current trends in journalism and tech. I’ll report back on how they get on.
Further to my recent blogpost about the ability to embed Findery notes in websites, it’s now possible to do it in wordpress.com blogs like this one. And here’s one of my recent notes to prove it!
There’s also a plugin for self-hosted WordPress sites. More detail is available at the Findery blog.
One of my notes on Findery, complete with embed code.
I’m a fan of Findery, a start-up which lets you create notes about anything you like, then post them at locations around the world on a big online map. Writing little tidbits and leaving them for other people to find is fun, but more fun is simply moving through different parts of the map and discovering what others have posted. The standard of notes is generally high, ranging from the deeply personal to the fascinating to the completely random. The site itself works smoothly and looks good, which makes the whole process quite satisfying.
Having spent most of the year in private beta (and going through a name change from Pinwheel for legal reasons), Findery is now open to the public. It’s steadily rolling out new features, the latest of which is the potentially very useful ability to embed notes on third-party blogs and websites.
There’s now an embed code beside each note, but seeing as it uses iFrames and this is merely a wordpress.com blog, I can’t demonstrate it here. So a screenshot will have to do instead. The note was from my trip to the Manchester Science and Industry Museum today. I aim to educate as well as entertain, clearly.
After a week during which my MA students had a lecture from someone else, it was back to me today for the third in my series of talks. The session ran through several related points on a similar theme. I covered online communities, experiments in open journalism including the latest relaunch by The Guardian of their efforts in this area, new ways of working for journalists, and how journalists themselves are facing increased scrutiny from members of the public using the internet.
Here’s the presentation: http://prezi.com/w6grnzs43jlm/ma-lecture-3-university-of-leeds/
I spoke a bit about how, sometimes, individuals with a particular interest or specialism can offer better coverage of a certain issue or event than the mainstream media, and how the ease of setting up your own blog nowadays makes this task a bit easier. A classic example from recent months is the Rangers Tax Case blog, which is worth looking at whether you’re interested in Scottish football or not. The author wrote a very interesting piece for The Guardian about how his coverage had rather shown up the established newspapers in Scotland.
Posted in Lectures
Tagged Blogger, Daily Mail, Facebook, Help Me Investigate, Jack of Kent, Johann Hari, Money Saving Expert, Mumsnet, Rangers Tax Case, The Guardian, They Work For You, Twitter, Wikipedia, WordPress