August 3, 2005

On HonorTags

I’ve been meaning for some time to blog about HonorTags, the effort spearheaded by Dan Gillmor and others to create a system of trust that attaches to individuals’ blog posts.

It’s an inspired idea with much merit, especially in the way it uses the mechanisms built into the Web to erect a social infrastructure built on credibility.

Under the HonorTags system, a blogger, PR pro, podcaster or anyone can voluntarily identify herself by using any of several roles, such as journalist, advocate, fan, personal observer or fiction-teller. The resulting self-identified tags are read by computers and whisked off to sites like Technorati, and users can then sort them to help find relevant and/or trustworthy stuff online.

If enough people adopt the system, then readers get to gauge the author’s intentions up front.

As I say, the idea has merit, and I’m willing to give it some time to see if it becomes widely adopted. (I’ve used HonorTags a few times, as in my video report for Dan’s Bayosphere site last month. Quick and painless.)

So it’s been interesting to gauge the reaction of the blogopshere, which has been somewhat frosty. Mark Hamilton, whose post is one of the more positive ones, wonders how we suss out tags that are abused or misused — a question I’ve heard raised several times.

At last weekend’s BlogHer conference, Chris Nolan said on a panel, “I don’t think this kind of tagging is gonna go anywhere. Dan’s heart is in the right place, but people are smart enough to figure out for themselves” whether to trust someone’s posting.

Melinda Gipson of the Newspaper Association of America chimed in, “Even traditional news organizations shy away from labels,” saying it reminded her too much of the controversy over PICS ratings back in 1997 (which I wrote about here).

I suggest that all of those who comment about HonorTags give them a try at least once to see how it works. It’s still early, and HonorTags may yet catch on.

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August 3, 2005

Guidelines for newspaper bloggers

This wise set of precepts compiled by John Robinson, editor of the Greensboro, N.C., News & Record. didn’t get as much mileage in the blogosphere as they deserved when Robinson blogged them two weeks ago. (Thanks to Terry Heaton for the pointer.)

So, here are the guidelines the News & Record have laid out for its journalist-bloggers, with emphasis added where other publications ought to take heed:

Standards and practices

1. Be honest and tell the truth, for all the reasons that your mother and editor told you. It’s what we do, and besides, it means you don’t have to worry about….

2. Libel. Don’t do it. You know what’s permissible and what’s not. Don’t get close to the line because….

3. Our blogs aren’t edited. Editing slows down the process, and editors have enough to do. Blogs also must have the writer’s voice. Editing squeezes the life out of them. We trust you. That said….

4. You represent the newspaper, not yourself. We’re still responsible for the blog’s content so get it right. Blogs must be factual and fair. The newspaper’s standards apply. When in doubt, ask. This is not an opportunity for you to mouth off about whatever occurs to you. Do not embarrass us, and that includes….

5. Spelling and grammar. If you are a chronic misspeller, get a dictionary or have someone read behind you. Your posts must adhere to proper English grammar, spelling and style. Still, you should….

6. Develop your own voice. It will help de-mystify you to readers. Using first-person is OK. Using non-offensive slang is OK. Referring to a friend or family member is OK. You’ll need them because you must….

7. Develop a thick skin. Don’t get defensive or aggressive, even if that’s your natural style. You may get called names and abused personally. If you can’t ignore that then you can’t handle a blog. If you can, then, first off….

8. Ignore the trolls. That’s the etiquette of the blogosphere. They will haunt you. Ignore them and they may go away. Respond to them and you’ll have them forever. Often other commenters will take care of them. Speaking of other commenters….

9. Make fun of no one except yourself. Be gracious and listen to commenters. You may learn something. If not, say nothing, although saying thanks is OK. (I am occasionally weak on this point.) Serious commenters will also correct stuff you say. That’s good. Correct the post. You should get a decent number of comments if you….

10. Post several times a week. You want to keep the blog fresh so people will come back. If you don’t have time or don’t think you can keep it up, reconsider. It’s not all that hard to find something to write about every day. Your post doesn’t have to be long — in fact, it shouldn’t be. You can find lots of material elsewhere on the web so be sure to….

11. Link out. Link to other web sites. Link to other blogs. Link to your competitors. Link everywhere. It drives traffic. It builds credibility. And it establishes your site as a place to go for good info. We don’t have all the info; other papers have some we don’t have. With the blog you can “steal” it — without fear of jail time — because you can link to it, talk about it and get credit for supplying the info. Everything will help because….

12. You’re writing for a specialized audience. The newspaper audience is general; people visiting your blog are interested in your topic. Understand that and tell them everything you know.

13. Play nice with the local bloggers. They aren’t your competitors or enemies, although it will seem that way at times. Engage with them. Show them respect. Write about them on the blog. Participate. The love you take is equal to the love you make.

14. Read other bloggers around town and around the nation. There are a lot of good ones who are right on the money about your topic.

15. Add value. Extend the purpose of your journalism. While you’re at it, take the opportunity to explain your process. As Mark Binker says, the more your readers understand what you do, the more credible you become.

16. Have fun. If it’s not fun, don’t do it.

August 3, 2005

Vlogging on your personal web page

Since we set up Groups on Ourmedia last month, several of them — such as Videoblogging (742 members) and Flickr (211 members) — have just taken off. Now that RSS 2.0 is working on the site, it means that not only can people subscribe to your video, audio, photo and text feeds, but you can also list your works and feeds on your own blog or website and people can subscribe to them there.

Today, Windsong described the process for doing so:

Here is the info on how to move you ourmedia page xml and mrss (short for My rss newsfeed) newsfeed to your personal web page wherever it might be on the web.

Step 1. [Log in to Ourmedia, then] go to My Controls and Open My Page.

Step 2.Once at your page view the source.

Step 3. Open note pad, you will need it.

Step 4. scroll down the source till you find a line that starts with div class=”xml-icon copy that line to notepad for editing.

Step will need to add after href=” and scr=” anywhere in the line you find it to tell the browser where to look for the rss and xml button and where to go.

Step 6. you should delete any thing not inside of the anchor symbols which are the a’s with the < or> around them,anything next to the a counts. also the ref to & nbsp; & nbsp; as that relates to internal ourmedia stuff that won’t work on your server.

Step 7.Take what you have left on note pad and paste it to you web page wherever you want it to appear. you can use br to space it. your done.

Publish your page. If you did it right you will see the xml and mrrs button appear on your web page now when a visitor to your web page clicks on the button he will be subscribed to your personal feed here. anytime you post new work here they will get it in there feed.Now you can vlog like a Pro with your feed on your own web page from ourmedia!!

July 31, 2005

Meet the vloggers


Just got back from giving a talk about Ourmedia at the Apple store in San Francisco, followed by a housewarming party thrown by Renee Blodgett. Barb Dybwad of Weblogs Inc.’s Social Software Weblog has a good rundown of tonight’s appearance at the Apple store. (Sorry I didn’t get to meet you, Barb!)

July 31, 2005

Photos of BlogHer


Just finished uploading 32 photos to Flickr, taken at the BlogHer conference in Santa Clara, Calif., July 29-30, 2005. This was by far the nicest, most engaging group of bloggers I’ve ever met. I’m honored to be designated the citizen journalist who gets to chronicle the images of the conference through photos and videos. More (text) on Sunday afternoon, with videos to follow in the coming week.

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