Written By: - Date published: 8:26 pm, February 19th, 2009 - 2 comments
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webstockI spent a very fruitful day at webstock in Wellington today listening to some heavy hitters from the US and UK talk about what makes good social media.

For those of you who don’t know it, webstock is a movement/event based on the idea that the web is a tool of democratisation and community. Sort of like the opposite of s92a.

There were too many highlights to mention in one blog post but I’ve got to say it was strangely comforting to hear that everyone from the guardian online’s Meg Pickard to Flickr’s Heather Champ are spending a lot of time trying to figure out how to keep the balance between moderating their space and encouraging community involvement. They, and Derek Powazek, had some very good ideas about community involvement that I’ll be discussing next time I’m having a beer with Lynn.

Pickard had five very good points for creating successful social media which included getting journalists to get amongst their commenters in the comments section (something Colin Espiner is good at) and making sure that good comments are acknowledged.

For me though, the pick of the day was Adrian Holovaty. He’s a journalist and programmer who has developed a thing called everyblock.

As someone who has had a bit to do with journalism over the years one of the things I’m concerned by is the centralisation of media resources into the main cities and the dwindling local and regional coverage that has followed.

Holovaty’s site is a complete reversal of that process. Using a map mash up, hunting down local government information and aggregating (and screen scraping) local media and blogs, and pretty much any other information they can get their hands on, his team has created a news resource that focuses on providing content on a city-block by city-block basis. He’s a fanatic for good data and making sure it’s accessible. My favorite quote of the day was his:

If it can be linked it should be linked

While it only covers 11 US cities at the moment it seems like a model that would work really well here and return community news back to the community. Holovaty put the call out for a Kiwi connection. Let’s hope someone picks it up.

2 comments on “Web/community”

  1. ak 1

    YES! Love the everyblock concept. Latent community spirit (especially in our provincial areas) is sorely underestimated and untapped. Basically an on-line takeover of the give-away local “two-minute silence” rags with the advantage of daily updates, instant customer feedback and instant linky access to unlimited information/directories/news etc.

    Establish a reputation with quality local news, titbits, humour etc (big broadband rollout, computers-in-homes programmes etc will help), attract local advertising to pay the bills and you’re onto a winner – not to mention saving the trees and cutting the tory dinosaurs off at the ankles.

    “Ekatahuna Today! the world at our fingertips”

    (heh….captcha com- advanced)

  2. Rex Widerstrom 2

    Since this post is looking a little lonely and unloved I wanted to say thanks for writing it, IB. I suspect that, like me, most people want to absorb the info and don’t feel they have much to contribute (or maybe that is just me 😉 )

    I’d encourage you to go on giving space to discussions round the web and community because it’s particularly interesting to read about in a quasi-political context. Most such discussions focus round measuring the success of your “online community” by how many you can lure through your shopping cart to the checkout :-/

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