Entries from September 2010 ↓

Playing with Storify

The very interesting social-media curation tool Storify was released in private beta on Tuesday at TechCrunch’s Disrupt conference. It neatly twists the idea behind Flipboard.

Flipboard automatically generates a list of stories that might interest you, based on links suggested by people you follow on Twitter or your Facebook friends. Storify reverses the flow – it allows you to easily curate a list of readings you recommend, based on your own (or others’) social-media postings.

It’s still early-release stuff – the UI, while clean, is a bit obscure (especially the flow to save, then edit, a Storify “story.”) And, like all new tools, it’ll take a few weeks for the collective “us” to figure out how to best use it. But it’s a neat mashup of technology and journalism, and it’s worth watching.

Why? Tools like this are part of the emerging news ecosystem – how can we tap the experts out there to surface smart stories on important niche topics? It’s a problem – and opportunity – my skunk-works team at PBS is thinking about a lot.

A sample – which I ginned up in all of three minutes based on the intertwined riffs of newspaper brain drains and the reinvention of what Washington journalism can be:

OK, so a raw feed of pertinent tweets isn’t a “story” in a traditional sense. But marry this with a quick text introduction (which I, um, was a bit too lazy to write) and you’ve got the makings of useful information.

A side note: The smart folks at Storify deserve all the kudos. But I’ll point out that my friends at the Knight Fellowships at Stanford can claim godparent status: co-founder Burt Herman spent the last year as a Knight Fellow, thinking about ways to use technology to reinvent journalism.)

And a big hat-tip to MediaBug‘s Scott Rosenberg for the blog post that tipped me to Storify.

Another drip in the newspaper brain drain

The National Journal is making a major effort to revamp its websites, and it just made a brilliant hire, my old friend and colleague David Beard.

The Journal’s gain, of course, is someone’s loss – the Boston Globe‘s.

Sadly, this is another example of the continuing brain drain of smart digital leaders from traditional newspaper newsrooms. Many who have left talk about the exciting new opportunities at their new organization.

Dave does that – but, as usual, he’s also far more honest about another motivation: “I just didn’t want to live my life managing decline.”

Too true.

Lest we get too maudlin, however: Congrats to Dave for brilliant service to the Boston community for a dozen years, and best wishes on his new adventure.

Been silent lately …

… while I started a new gig. I’m now serving as a senior director and publisher for a news and public affairs project at PBS.org.

My time working with both GrowthSpur and Localist.com has been a blast. But the chance to work with Christine Montgomery and the crew at PBS was too much to pass up.

I remain involved with GrowthSpur as a member of its advisory board. The team there has better insight than just about anyone into the growth of independent journalism in the blogosphere (and the economic challenges those independent blogs place), and is doing vital work to help invent the future of journalism.

The same could be said about my new work, too. More on that in the coming weeks. Suffice to say that my new social-networking avatar is the guy on the left here.

Astute Muppet watchers will recognize him as Dr. Bunsen Honeydew, chief scientist at Muppet Labs, “Where the future is being invented today.” How cool is that? I mean, what could possibly go wrong?

If the prospect of being Beaker-ed doesn’t scare you, I’m still looking for a couple of savvy digital producers who join the new team. Details are at pbs.org/jobs.