Tagtraditional media

Next-generation content management for newspapers (is in the making)


Image: Howard Beatty by Flickr User Ann Althouse, CC licensed (by-nc)Steve Yelvington helps newspapers get the web. Newspapers have a hard time adapting the new ways of the web, what with all this user-generated content, changing consumer habits and dropping sales. It’s a huge cultural problem – traditional vs new vs social media – too. (And it’s not that newspapers, their editors or their management are stupid. Of course they aren’t. Still, they struggling.)

Working with Morris DigitalWorks, Steve is working on a next-generation news site management system. Quite a claim to fame, but both his track record and the few details he already shares back it up. So what’s different here?

We’re integrating a lot more social-networking functionality, which we think is an important tool for addressing the “low frequency” problem that most news sites face. We’re going to be aggressive aggregators, pulling in RSS feeds from every community resource we can find, and giving our users the ability to vote the results up/down. We’ll link heavily to all the sources, including “competitors.” Ranking/rating, commenting, and RSS feeds will be ubiquitous. Users of Twitter, Pownce and Friendfeed will be able to follow topics of interest. We’re also experimenting with collaborative filtering, something I’ve been interested in since I met the developers of GroupLens in the mid-1990s. It’s how Amazon offers you books and products that interest you: People whose behavior is the most like yours have looked at/bought/recommended this other thing.

That’s music in my ears. The whole thing is based on Drupal, which has always been strong on community features. Here, it seems, the whole platform will be aimed at creating mashups, drawing in RSS feeds, pushing them around and spitting them out. In the end, you should end up with a pretty lively site full of both professionally produced and user-generated content and commentary. Of course, by providing both input and output channels for RSS feeds, the data isn’t restricted to just the website, it lives on beyond, way in the cloud.

And the best thing: Usability-wise it’ll be aimed not at techies, but at editors. No major coding necessary:

Open tools and open platforms are great for developers, but what we really want to do is place this kind of power directly in the hands of content producers. They won’t have to know a programming language, or how databases work, or even HTML to create special presentations based on database queries. Need a new XML feed? Point and click.

That’s great news, and certainly a project to watch closely. Can’t wait to see the launch. October it is.

(via Strange Attractor)

Note: So far, the CMS code hasn’t been released under a GPL, but they’ve pledged to do so. All in good time.

Image: Howard Beatty by Flickr User Ann Althouse, released under Creative Commons (by-nc)

Presentation: print is dead, at least to the young


The print vs online discussion is as old as the internet, and I can’t even recall how often I’ve heard that print is dead. However, it’s not quite as common to also deliver the necessary data to back up this statement. One person who really has the science pat down and can back up his theories is Steffen Büffel, German media consultant and blogger. And he’s spot on in this presentation (which sadly we only have in German as of now):

(This version includes audio. If you’re looking for a slide-only version, you’ll find it here.)

My favorite point? Newspapers are the medium of our great grandparents, TV maybe the medium of our parents. But we live in the web.

Also, Steffen gave this presentation at a cross media seminar. Judging from the audience’s questions and feedback, they felt quite uncomfortable with his ideas. Which, of course, leads us right back to the main problem traditional media are facing these days: The media makers, or at least the decision-makers, largely belong to a different generation of media users than following generations. This development isn’t just going to go away, so big media: Why don’t you just come talk to us? You are familiar with good ol’ Cluetrain, are you? So come out and play!

Disclosure: I’ve been working with Steffen on Blogpiloten.de and may be biased.