"Conceivably the next great media company will be all spokes and no hub. It will exist as a constellation of connected apps and widgets that live inside other sites and offer a full experience plus access to your social graph and robust community features. Each of these may interconnect too so that a media company's community on Facebook can talk to the same on Twitter.
Facebook might be the first venue where this starts. It could become a mini news reader for millions who don't care about RSS or Twitter. Over time this may obviate the need to create large news sites. It's easier to create a rich interactive experience there than start a new news site and hope that people come to you. They won't have time to find or visit."
Lavrusik says this reminded him of his post on our Facebook applications from last summer:
"The question is no longer just a hypothetical one. With increasing convergence between social media and traditional content, what is known as a traditional news website might not exist in the coming years. Perhaps a revealing example is the creation of Facebook applications by a Seattle-based aggregator, NewsCloud, which received a grant from the Knight Foundation to study how young people receive their news through social networks."
"The question is no longer just a hypothetical one. With increasing convergence between social media and traditional content, what is known as a traditional news website might not exist in the coming years.
Perhaps a revealing example is the creation of Facebook applications by a Seattle-based aggregator, NewsCloud, which received a grant from the Knight Foundation to study how young people receive their news through social networks."
According to new figures from Nielsen, the amount of time spent surfing social networking and blogging sites had tripled since last year, suggesting "a wholesale change in the way the Internet is used," says Jon Gibs, VP of media and agency insights at the company's online division.
As of August 2009, the time spent on social networking and blogging sites accounts for 17% of the total time spent online, a number up 6% from a year ago. This change reflects a growing desire for people to stay connected with each other, communicate and share, reports Nielsen.
Update: Be sure to read NiemanLab's take on this post Micropayments for news: The holy grail or just a dangerous delusion? - it provides a lot of great background and context.
This post was inspired by Steve Outing's tweet: "HUGE difference between price of 1 cent and 0 cents in terms of
consumer behavior. My take: what u suggest would kill off audience", posted in response to my opposing tweet.
What would an aggregate micropayment system look like?
Micropayment systems allow publishers to charge small amounts, such as a penny per page, then bundle these micro-charges into a monthly bill large enough to warrant a credit card transaction e.g. $1.52. For individual publishers, this might take more than a month and result in numerous small charges over time. A third party aggregator solves this problem by tracking and billing users for their usage across a network of participating sites. For consumers, it can be a simple, pay as you go system at a reasonable price.
The primary advantage to the consumer is that the majority of their online content costs are aggregated in a single bill.
Earlier this month, the Nieman J-Lab reported that Google was developing a micropayment platform that aims for fixed monthly access passes:
"[Google] envision[s] the typical scenario to be where a user pays a monthly fee for access to a wide-ranging package of premium content. One example of a “package” might be full access to the WSJ [Wall Street Journal]; another “package” might include the top 10 business publications. Google believes that there is real power and benefit to publishers in providing these sorts of broad, multi-publication access passes."
The Google approach isn't as consumer friendly. It reminds me of how I'm forced to purchase 60 cable channels just to watch the two that I want.
With simple consistent pricing e.g. 1 cents per page and respect for consumers, micropayments could help boost revenue for media publishers. If publishers try to jack up rates and charge
too much for content - consumers probably will reject it. See also Imagining a penny-a-click Web (TechFlash).
This service can be as much a benefit to mainstream
publishers as it could be an additional new revenue opportunity for
bloggers and small, independent publishers.
Would consumers pay?
There's no way to answer that without starting some trials. However, let me give a few examples of services that we've grown used to paying for:
Small fees for news content does not seem much different than these to me - in fact, it seems like a good value. In contrast, look at the way newspapers and websites are treating their readers today: pages with high ratios of ad-space to content-space, registration walls, pop-under ads, pop-down ads, interstitial ads, page-skins, overlay ads and more. This is not sustainable - and apparently, it's not working:
What's next, a slot machine animation that requires readers to refresh interstitial ads n times until they get 3 cherries and are allowed to read the story?
Sites are becoming so cluttered that there is more risk for publishers in alienating readers by staying on this course than by trying something new.
Provide Value to Consumers
Last month, I wrote that publishers need to start thinking about providing new value to readers unless they want to become social media roadkill as readers get their fill of news with 140 character tweets and mobile RSS-sized captions.
If implemented correctly, micropayment technology could allow publishers to provide some valuable new features via Web-services enabled by the aggregator:
How Do We Get Started
Turn off your registration walls. It might help you to have your reader's email address, but there's not much initial benefit to them.
Turn on micropayment tracking. Use the service to place widgets on each page that show readers quantitatively how many stories they've read and how much time they've been spending on your site. Offer links to related stories they might be interested based on what you know about their preferences.
Introduce them to their searchable, historical archive. Encourage them to register so that their archive combines information from all the participating sites I'm using.
Set a threshold at which you expect readers to start paying. For some sites, this might be 10 stories. For some, it might be 100+ or more. This is a good time to tell them that good journalism costs money and that this program is less intrusive and more friendly than ad-cluttered sites and more effective than downsized newsrooms.
Some sites can launch the service as a trial. Some sites might offer it to a subset of readers in exchange for special offers or faster, ad-free pages. Some sites might require all readers to begin paying for content immediately. The micropayment model can be used in parallel with existing revenue models e.g. advertising, subscription, et al. and even free content.
Should publishers wait for Google to build it? As the Nieman J-Lab put it, "newspaper companies that have frequently accused Google of leaching off their revenue might be loathe to participate in a joint venture."
Perhaps, an industry group like the Fair Syndication Consortium or other nonprofit might build a service like this to support news organizations. The system I've described might make an interesting entry in this year's Knight Foundation News Challenge, if restricted to a single-city trial - I was surprised nothing like this won last year.
I don't think micropayments are the only answer to journalism's business model challenges but I do think they warrant experimentation and a fair trial before we judge them.
Please let me know what you think of this idea. Post a comment below or tweet @reifman.
If you've enjoyed this piece, you may be interest in the following links:
The Fall 2009 Nieman Reports on Journalism and Social Media features Engaging Youth in Social Media: Is Facebook the New Media Frontier? co-written by our research partner Dr. Christine Greenhow: (you can learn more about our research funded by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation):
Like many young people her age, Jackie, who is 18, admits that she’s not one to put pen to paper, turn the pages of The New York Times, or devour a paperback on a lazy summer afternoon. Yet on a Thursday morning before school, she logged into Hot Dish, a youth-oriented Facebook app that serves up “the hottest climate news.” For Jackie, it’s a go-to social media site within her Facebook network. She goes there, she told us, to “check in to see what articles other people had posted and to read their comments” on thoughts she had shared. Once there, she reads stories about climate change, comments on them, and easily shares news with her friends. She calls this site her “everyday RSS habit,” a place she goes to read and post.
Counter to the decline in young people reading anything printed on paper—whether news or books—is a notable increase in out-of-school online reading and writing through fanfiction (at fanfiction.net, for example) and social networking sites. Yet, according to The Pew Research Center for the People & the Press, more than one third of people under 25 get no news on a daily basis. Yet, teens spend many hours each week online—a recent British study estimated the number at 31—especially on Facebook, which is the most-trafficked social media site in the world.
We wondered if young people could be persuaded to critically engage in reading news and conversing about it on Facebook. Would doing this provide them with a sense of community? Furthermore, would their involvement translate into real-world actions or consist solely of virtual activism? And, if we understood better how young people decide how to handle, produce and talk through information online, would we be any closer to knowing how to develop successful media-rich and educational environments?
Facebook, the rapidly growing social network, said it had passed an important financial milestone and become “free cash-flow positive,” which indicates it now brings in enough revenue to cover all of its operating costs, including capital expenditures.
“This is important to us because it sets Facebook up to be a strong independent service for the long term,” the company’s chief executive, Mark Zuckerberg, wrote in a blog post on Tuesday.
Mr. Zuckerberg added that less than six months after adding its 200 millionth member, the service has now crossed 300 million.
Here's a summary of all the media I've seen in the aftermath of Evan Ratliff's capture. Evan's original story that prompted the contest is here - Gone Forever: What does it take to really disappear? (Wired Magazine, September 2009). Please email me if I missed any. Evan's own story will appear in the December issue of Wired Magazine.
Primary Capture Reports and Recaps:
Related Twitter Accounts and feeds:
Update: You can read, watch and listen to a summary of all post-contest media here. The following post is a detailed technical description of how we found the clues to Evan's whereabouts and notified Naked Pizza who captured Evan in New Orleans:
After twenty-five days on the run, the New Orleans' Naked Pizza team caught Evan Ratliff, the Wired magazine writer who voluntarily disappeared as part of its Vanish contest! This is how we tracked Evan to New Orleans in time to alert the great Naked Pizza folks who responded aggressively and won the day for Vanish trackers.
On August 15th, Ratliff disappeared. According to the contest rules, the first person who photographed Ratliff and said the word "Fluke" to him received a password to claim the $5,000 prize. The winner was Jeff Leach of Naked Pizza in New Orleans.
Since vanishing, Evan had been publishing regular travel updates to a secret protected Twitter account unknown until now which I infiltrated by gaining the support of his Twitter followers across the globe. Initially, Evan published his tweets in the open before protecting his account sometime after leaving the Santa Monica, California area.
Surprisingly, Evan had actually been sharing his protected tweets with the publisher of TrackEvan.com (see http://www.mysocialmediaguy.com), one of the more aggressive "trackers". Unbeknownst to TrackEvan, he's had access to Evan's travel updates through a Twitter account he publishes news for Phoenix, Arizona. He just never realized it.
It's important to clarify that, for the most part, any "mistakes" Evan makes are clues he purposely left behind to make the contest fair and to showcase points he made in his recent Wired story: (Gone Forever: What does it take to really disappear?) The story details how the disappeared often give themselves away by seeking information on their pursuers' progress or returning to common habits. Evan purposely repeated these mistakes and each led to us catching him.
What does this have to do with NewsCloud?
After the Iranian election uprising, I worked to ensure that we could launch NewsCloud's Facebook community application technology to respond more quickly to important current events. Wired's Vanish contest presented an excellent soft test case, so I launched VanishTeam to cover Evan's disappearance and support the tracker community in one day. Evan's subsequent visits to the VanishTeam application ultimately led to me the discovery of his secret twitter travel journal.
Cracking TOR Requires More than IP Addresses
While many people, including Evan, thought that Wired's publishing the IP addresses from his gmail account login history would be essential to locating him, this has turned out not to be the case. His use of TOR made locating him quite difficult. Other clues were difficult or obscured by misinformation posted by people trying to help Evan avoid detection. As a result, many contest participants started to lose interest in the hunt. Cracking TOR anonymity is beyond the reach of most #vanish trackers. However, without going into much detail here, VanishTeam found a way to begin tracking Evan's IP addresses after we identified the "fraudulent" Facebook account he had created.
Evan Exposes Himself to Vanish Team Community
Soon after this video of Evan being interviewed by Amanda Congdon on Venice Beach emerged, I recognized the resemblance to this Facebook member, gatzjd, of Vanish Team's community. Within a day, I'd guessed and discovered a similar account at Twitter, jdgatz, an alias from the Great Gatsby (a book on Evan's list of books). The fact that his tweets were protected made me curious.
Google Cache Exposes Evan's Early Travels
Googling for jdgatz showed google cache entries of adventures in Venice and Santa Monica which matched previous clues released by Wired and the beach video. Evan left his posts open for the first week of his disappearance. I knew I had Evan in my sights but then had to find out to get access to Evan's future Tweets.
Evan initially chose over 20 followers, later reduced down to fifteen, mostly popular multi-level marketers and auto-responding twitter followers. This may have helped him conceal the "newness" of his Twitter account. Although Evan entrusted his travels to more than a few Twitter porn-bots, once he protected his account - any new follow request would likely tip him off. Gaining access to his current tweets wouldn't be as simple as creating a fake porn account and asking his permission to follow.
Infiltrating Evan's New Secret Twitter Identity
However, some of these people were real folks and I was able to earn their trust. First, I made a late night Skype call to a Twitter follower in New Zealand (@AraneaNZ). He was intrigued by the contest and sent me Evan's entire Tweet history. But to catch Evan, I would need real time updates from someone closer to my timezone - so I found other followers and all three continued sharing Evan's updates with me.
The second was Kelly Mitchell, a realtor in Hawaii with 50,000+ Twitter followers. The third was David Lemco who publishes the Twitter tech feed, ShadowGremlin. Both became quickly engaged in the hunt!
From his Twitter feed, I managed to piece together Evan's travels (see below). In it, he not only talks about his exploits, but also his appearance at the U.S. soccer match at Rio Tinto in Utah. The jdgatz account also offered links to a Tumblr website http://bespect.com (which Evan later removed). Bespect.com is registered by a "James Gatz". Bespect also linked to a larger version of Evan's profile picture. Finally, the Bespect site offers a pre-paid cell # Evan has likely been using: 1-970-614-5437. I also found a MobyPicture account with one image of a hotel room. Even by clicking on Bespect.com once, I might have given myself away to Evan via his Tumblr logs.
Most importantly, we learned from Evan's tweets that he had shaved his head before attending the crowded soccer match where so many trackers might be.
It's not clear for who or why Evan kept tweeting after protecting the jdgatz account. Perhaps it created a record for him to point to - or might allow him to gloat at having shared his whereabouts all along with the publisher of TrackEvan.com. To encourage him to divulge even more, I tweeted "In the future, Evan will be judged by the clues he left. We will be judged by the trail we have not followed. #vanish"
We received several IP trails from Evan's fake Facebook account at VanishTeam.com in the day after his arrival in Atlanta. Two were from a wireless Virgin Mobile account which did not reveal any geographic information. Late on Monday the 7th, Evan visited again revealing an IP in New Orleans. I had the help of @socillion in verifying the exact location of each IP address.
Coincidentally, around the same time, I noticed that Evan had re-opened his jdgatz tweet feed to the public. I quickly used two fake twitter accounts to follow him and set them up so that they appeared similar to other followers (yes, even a fembot) he had already chosen. Now, I had direct access to his updates. We also had a handful of trusted Vanish Team community members online but didn't have anyone on the ground there to catch him. An hour or so later, I almost missed that Evan had begun following three new twitter accounts - each a New Orleans business (@neworleansrum - a rum distillery with factory tours, @nakedpizza - a twitter-savvy pizza operation with Evan's favorite gluten-free crust and @lakefrontnola - a wedding videographer). I took a risk and blasted late night emails about the contest and Evan's presence to each of the three businesses. I almost felt badly about possibly ruining imagined plans of Evan hiring the videographer to film his wedding in New Orleans.
The next morning, I received a call from Jeff Leach of Naked Pizza. Jeff was super excited and motivated and got his team in gear - not only at Naked Pizza, but even sent people to the Rum distillery and to two book readings we suspected Evan might go to. Without Jeff's aggressiveness and excitement, Evan would still be missing. The $3,000 Evan has to contribute of the prize money out of his own pocket for being caught probably makes the "comped" gluten-free pizza he received from Naked Pizza the most expensive in history.
Evan's Biggest Clues/"Mistakes"
The biggest clue Evan left was by visiting the Vanish Team Facebook application with a profile photo that so closely resembled the video of himself on Venice Beach. I don't think I would have noticed him if he had used a fake photo. Even if he had used the Facebook generic avatar, I wouldn't have been able to distinguish him from the other fake Facebook accounts with generic avatars.
Secondly, he kept returning to Vanish Team more than once a day using this same account. Thirdly, he rarely visited Vanish Team using TOR - so he left his IP address in our log. The Vanish Team application became part of the game - essentially a trap for Evan - one he stumbled into each day knowingly and willingly. This is something that we would never do with our Facebook technology if Evan hadn't asked us to pursue him - but it's a useful reminder of "relative" anonymity on the Web.
Thirdly, by following random Twitter accounts with his protected jdgatz account, Evan left open avenues for trackers to infiltrate his own posts by contacting those people who were strangers to him.
It will be interesting to learn more about Evan's clues and puzzles. Vanish Team was the only team that knew Evan was in New Orleans and the only team that had discovered his jdgatz feed. We were the only team that knew he had shaved his head (as imagined at right via Photoshop). I'm not certain how easily other trackers could have found Evan without running their own "media" site.
One suggested path would be searching Twitter for keywords of his known locations. After the Venice Beach video, searching twitter may have quickly turned up the jdgatz account. He had even published to the #venicebeach and #santamonica twitter tags and linked to the hotel he was staying in on two occasions.
Throughout this week, I've been amazed at how quickly people's interest spikes and their eagerness to help increases when they hear about this contest. Perhaps there's a real hunger for play in our lives or perhaps we just get annoyed when someone tells us they can outwit us. I've had to admit to myself that perhaps I am drawn to Evan's contest because I've been working too hard this past year to get a long vacation of my own. Deep down, I think I want to hit the road just as Evan has - but not as mysteriously.
In retrospect, Evan said all along that he intended to duplicate the curiosity for his pursuers that had been the downfall of people who purposely vanished before him. Joining Vanish Team on Facebook with a photo of his latest disguise, tweeting publicly and then privately about his activities - were all foolish, arrogant things Evan promised to do - but left a very detailed trail of his journey.
Closing in on his trail required Internet forensics as well as soft social skills getting random Twitter personalities to trust me and share Evan's tweets. It also required taking risks by trusting and cooperating with anonymous people from the Internet. So far, these techniques have proven as effective as any boots on the ground as private investigators told Wired trackers to engage. In my opinion, the limited prize money, difficulty or scarceness of verifiable clues and the abundance of misinformation made getting out into the field seem very premature. However, the contest in the end required boots on the ground. I'm just glad those boots were Jeff Leach's and the Naked Pizza team.
Thanks to Evan and Wired Editor Nick Thompson for running such a well-conceived, fun, contest. Evan, trust me, your role in this was way more glamorous than the time I've spent by the computer these past two weeks following you. Thanks to all the #vanish folks for participating in such a positive spirit. Thanks to Teeuwynn from Lone Shark Games for helping hunters with puzzles and keeping our findings in confidence. Thanks also to the Vanish Team members and contributors who kept our big secret from Evan - just long enough!
About the Vanish Team Application
The Vanish Team Facebook application is based on open source software funded by a 2008 grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and was part of a study to research engagement strategies for younger people in current events. The research results to Hot Dish, a climate change news community on Facebook, was released in early September: Engaging Youth in Social Media - Is Facebook the New Media Frontier?
Summary of Evan's Travels
Google Map courtesy of @socillion
View Evan Ratliff's Route in a larger map
Aug 16th Arrives in Santa Monica, Venice Beach without ID or credit cards (accidentally?)
Aug 17th "I really need to get me some real human followers. The spam bots are a bore." Tweets about Segway wipeout may have led to New Zealand contact following him.
Aug 18th Baby Blues BBQ in Venice
Aug 19th - Venice Beach. Watches District 9. Coffee Bean on Santa Monica Blvd. Pigeon flys inside. Watches soccer from pub. Staying @15Rose. Leaves (loses?) ID and credit cards behind.
Aug 22nd - Hanging with (new?) friends in Santa Monica
Aug 25th - On Greyhound through Tempe, Arizona; Las Cruces, New Mexico; Lubbock, Texas. Using wireless broadband (Verizon?)
Aug 26th - Arrives Las Vegas via Greyhound. Checks into Tropicana
Aug 31 - Sep 4th Returns to San Francisco after "zig-zagging cross country". Works a day as a concessionaire at 49ers game. Stays in sublet apartment.
Sep 5th - Arrives Salt Lake City (via Amtrak?) to attend soccer match. "(partially) re-shave my head" before a morning flight
Sep 6th Flies Delta to Denver then Atlanta
Sep 7th Arrives in New Orleans
Sep 8th Caught!
Evan's Complete Twitter History
See also http://twitter.com/jdgatz
Spent a few hours in old hometown today, ATL. Just enough time for Chick-fil-A. West Paces one was closed, damnit, had to hit Collier Rd
about 12 hours ago from TweetDeck
What a game last night. U.S. could've put in a couple more goals, but from section 24, row Y at Rio Tinto, it was a solid performance
9:29 AM Sep 6th from TweetDeck
Arrived in the Lake that is great and salty. Game on. They should pull a surprise call-in for Clint Mathis. We need a little Cletus rt now about 18 hours ago from TweetDeck T-minus 2 hours to the critical phase of Project Donovan... 7:54 PM Sep 5th from TweetDeck Someone should chart a 20-year history of the U.S. based on Tony Robbins evolving face & spiel. Seriously. There's gold in that there face! 7:52 PM Sep 5th from TweetDeck I'm not sure I've ever stayed up all night before in order to (partially) re-shave my head before a morning flight. But desperate times... 7:51 PM Sep 5th from TweetDeck I'm learning to love Amtrak, but anything over 5 hrs w/out sleeping car = yearning for the development of air travel. Wait, they have that? 7:51 PM Sep 5th from TweetDeck Hitting the road again tomorrow, last stop....the game! Meeting a friend along the way, not sure of the outcome but it's gonna be fun... 8:26 PM Sep 4th from TweetDeck Lessons from working concessions @ sports event 2day: 1. people think ballpark shit is too expensive 2. they take it out on lowly vendors 8:25 PM Sep 4th from TweetDeck Also a decent day for selling beer at the football stadium which I'll be doing later on. Line 'em up! I've got cold beers right here! 6:08 AM Sep 4th from TwitterGadget Pleasantly mild out there today, and looks like the rain has cleared out for a while. Maybe I'll survive my noon run... 6:07 AM Sep 4th from TwitterGadget The desirability of a neighborhood to me is directly proportional to 5 min walkable coffee shops. Current #: 4. Very high on the scale 6:56 AM Sep 3rd from TwitterGadget Now all I need is some work here, to afford said NY Times... 1:53 PM Sep 1st from web Finally found a place around here that sells the NY Times. 10 blocks, but close enough. They will pry my paper Times from my cold dead hands 1:52 PM Sep 1st from web Forgot what a real August summer is like, living back in San Francisco. Attempted to go running at noon. #excercisefail 9:35 AM Aug 31st from web Just arranged to sublet cool apt yesterday. Upstairs back of shotgun house, called a "camel back" apartment. Sounds dirty, but it's not. 9:33 AM Aug 31st from web Ok, fell off the twitter there for a while, zig-zagging cross country. Finally settled though. It's good to have a new home! 9:31 AM Aug 31st from web But it'll all be worth it when I can settled back in to my temporary home... http://bit.ly/QNDW9 5:38 AM Aug 26th from web Gonna be a loooonnnnnggggg trip back, http://bit.ly/2JstES 5:29 AM Aug 26th from web Just got a new project in Vegas, time to hop off the bus and head back West 4:52 AM Aug 26th from web Tough to stay up on Twitter on the bus...Tempe, Las Cruces, Lubbock. Wireless bband is incredible, tho. Access everywhere but central texas 9:26 AM Aug 25th from web F'ing Drogba. Watching the Ful-Chel match at a house in Las Cruces, NM. Did look precarious, that 0-0. 3:51 AM Aug 24th from web Ah, Tempe, how you fulfill expectations. Flat, hot as hell, with your one-story block houses, hammocks hung out front. Been a fun 8 hrs 5:49 AM Aug 23rd from web Good fun last night hanging out with friends up in SM. Had plans to ride the pier rides but the crowds get muy crazy on Thursday it seems 6:07 AM Aug 22nd from web There is a greater proportion of brimmed hat-wearers in Venice Bch than I've seen anywhere else. I will now succumb and buy a hat. 7:20 AM Aug 21st from web Customer saves day, traps pigeon in box! But he scuttles heroism with awkward joke to "you ladies" contrasting leg waxing and pigeon fear 9:19 AM Aug 20th There is a greater proportion of brimmed hat-wearers in Venice Bch than I've seen anywhere else. I will now succumb and buy a hat. about 20 hours ago from web Customer saves day, traps pigeon in box! But he scuttles heroism with awkward joke to "you ladies" contrasting leg waxing and pigeon fear 2:19 PM Aug 19th from web A pigeon just created screaming panic by flying into the Coffee Bean I'm sitting in on SM Blvd. You'd think it was a Pterodactyl 2:16 PM Aug 19th from web And, the sun's out. This is the SoCal fits with my work-turns-into-meeting-a-friend-turns-into-random-forced-vacation master plan 2:12 PM Aug 19th from web Just headed up to a pub in SM to watch Hull City get crushed, 5-1. They need them some JozyAltidore17, stat. And some defense. 2:09 PM Aug 19th from web Extended my accidental stay @15Rose for 2 more ngts. Should lose my ID and cc's more often. It's liberating, and this place is fantastic 2:05 PM Aug 19th from web Upon encountering a drum circle, one is either powerfully drawn to it or forcefully repelled. Sadly, I am the latter. 10:18 AM Aug 19th from web It's not supposed to be foggy at Venice Beach. If I wanted to wrap myself in a blanket of fog, I'd be in San Francisco. 10:12 AM Aug 19th from web Checked out District 9 last night, up in Santa Monica. Started out more in the horror genre than I expected, but turned into a great flick 10:11 AM Aug 19th from web Two more days in #venicebeach and #santamonica. Anybody have anything that I've gotta see/do? Besides continue to sit on the beach, that is 11:29 AM Aug 18th from web Stumbled on Baby Blues BBQ in Venice this evening: http://bit.ly/er3GS. Their N. Carolina pulled pork is the real thing. Okra even better. 12:41 AM Aug 18th from web About to catch the sunset over the Pacific. Man, too bad I'm taking off this week. I could get used to Venice. 6:31 PM Aug 17th from web Whoa, how many credit cards there are in the US? RT @mashable: 3 Men Indicted for Stealing 130 Million Credit Card #s http://bit.ly/4m3fjx 5:16 PM Aug 17th from web RT @TheOnionFilm Adaptation Of 'The Brothers Karamazov' Ends Where Most People Stop Reading Book http://bit.ly/2x5phY 1:37 PM Aug 17th from web Sun is finally burning through the overcast grimness out in Santa Monica. May be suitable for a swim yet, today. 12:57 PM Aug 17th from web Just saw a man wipe out on a Segway, GW Bush-style, on the path along the beach. Weren't they supposed to be wipe-out proof? 12:57 PM Aug 17th from web I really need to get me some real human followers. The spam bots are a bore. 12:56 PM Aug 17th from web Sunday night crowds at Venice beach offer an intriguing mix of the sunburnt and the burnt out 10:15 PM Aug 16th from web In LA and without ID or credit cards. But with the laptop! In inauspicious twitter kickoff, perhaps 9:36 PM Aug 16th from web
In December 2008, with generous funding from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation (New Facebook Applications to Engage Youth in News), NewsCloud and University of Minnesota College of Education and Human Development researcher Dr. Christine Greenhow launched a study to investigate how online social network sites such as Facebook can engage youth in world events, build community, and generate real world impact.
As part of the study, we launched two news sites inside of Facebook: "Hot Dish," a Facebook application for sharing articles about the environment and climate change, was launched in March 2009 in partnership with Grist.org and included an "Action Team" feature, which inspired 16‐ to 25‐year‐old users to take actions within the Hot Dish community in return for points redeemable for prizes. A second application, "The Daily," was launched in April 2009 for the student‐run newspaper at the University of Minnesota.
Today, we are releasing the summary of findings from Dr. Greenhow and her team which resulted from the Hot Dish community. Findings for The Daily will be released later in September 2009.
Here is an excerpt, full download below:
Counter to the decline in young people’s (print‐based) reading for pleasure and traditional media consumption is a noted increase in out‐of‐school online reading and writing through online fan fiction and social network sites. Yet, according to the Pew research institute, over one third of people under 25 get no news on a daily basis. However, teens spend many hours a week online (a recent British study said 31), particularly on Facebook ‐‐ the most‐trafficked social media site in the world. Facebook has more than 250 million active members.
Can youth be persuaded to critically engage in news and conversation ‐‐ on Facebook? Can they feel a sense of community? Furthermore, can their involvement translate into real‐world actions, or will it consist solely of virtual activism? And, if we understood how young people prefer to manipulate, produce and talk through information online, would that move us closer to understanding how to develop successful media‐rich and educational environments?
Answering such questions is critical. If we hope to inform, educate and mobilize an engaged citizenry — as the vision for not only the future of news industries but also for full participation in a 21st century democracy says we should — we need to make sharing news and experiences fit easily into teens' lives and be easily tracked and observed to ensure success.
1. The design of the Hot Dish Facebook application seemed very effective at strengthening news consumption and online interaction habits.
2. Interest in Hot Dish’s focal topic increased, especially among low users. Anecdotal evidence also suggested growth in environmental knowledge, another top goal.
3. The Hot Dish Action Team competition seemed EXTREMELY effective at creating a highly engaged segment of active participants online and especially offline activism.
4. The design of Hot Dish provided avenues of participation that facilitated various engagement levels for different groups of users.
5. The topical focus of Hot Dish, and its emphasis on linkages between people within a social network, motivated participants to express ideas and interact with others in ways different from traditional online news sites.
6. The Hot Dish social media site within Facebook provided the occasion and impetus for young people’s reading and writing practices. For educators and others who care about promoting the literacy and public engagement of youth today, results suggest there may be advantages to locating niche media‐sharing communities within existing online social networks.
For complete details, please download Summary of Findings for Hot Dish Research (pdf)
Note: Some links in the PDF may not appear clickable. Please check back here for an updated version soon.