Online Journalism: Fall 2010

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Readings + Reactions for 10-29-10

As you struggle with code this week, here are two readings to remind you why you’re doing it:
Why Journalists Should Learn to Code
Be Not Afraid: Journalists Should Learn Code

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Filed under: Readings + Reactions

Your Group Prototype Tests

Paste your documentation videos and reports into the comments of this post (see previous post for explanation/expectations.

Filed under: Homework

Your Work for Next Week!

**updated to correctly reflect the HTML/CSS assignment**

A busy week! Three things:

1) Prepare and test a paper prototype for your group site. This is a group project, so divvy up the work equitably. You need to:
–build the prototype and test it on three actual users of your site (not just your roomates).
–between each user testing session, refine the prototype according to feedback from the previous test.
–document all the testing sessions with video and upload a video of the testing to YouTube.
–write a brief report documenting what you learned from testing and how you’re proceeding with the site concept and design (250 words).
–stick the report and video in the comments of the post dedicated to it.

2) Hand-code a bio page about yourself:
–demonstrate your understanding of both basic HTML and CSS.
–introduce yourself, your background and interests
–integrate all the basic HTML tags we discussed, along with a picture of yourself.
–paste your code into Pastie. Post a link to the code along with a sentence that introduces your dive into the comments of this post.

3) We’ll have a mid-term check-in on the blog you’ve been keeping since week one. Please make sure it’s up-to-date.

Filed under: Homework

HTML & CSS tools

Here’s a link to the absolute most basic HTML structure around. Copy and use!

REFERENCE GUIDES
The best reference site that I’ve found to help you with grasping both basic and advanced HTML and CSS is a site called HTML Dog.

It not only includes a number of very good tutorials for people working at beginner, intermediate, and advanced levels, it also includes a complete reference for both HTML tags and CSS properties, complete with examples of use.

Bookmark it, and use it regularly. The best way to learn this stuff is to simply try it out and look at how other sites do it using a tool like Firebug.

FIREBUG
Firebug, the Firefox add-on that lets you dig into site structure and design.

HTML TOOLS
Text Wrangler the free text editor we used in class today.

Bespin, the online text editor. Free and great (if not slightly buggy).

Pastie, a great tool for pasting your text-based code and getting a URL back that you can easily e-mail or Tweet to someone.

CSS TOOLS
CSS Type Set. A great tool for setting all sorts of font properties in CSS.

A great font preview that gives you the CSS code for the examples

Color Picker a very intuitive web app to pick HTML-ready colors.

Filed under: Lecture Links

Your Team Work For Next Week

Your teams have been assembled. Now you need to get together and start making plans on how to move forward. You have a very important document due next week, an audience & editorial plan for your site. This plan needs to include the following and must be signed by every member of your team:

  1. A detailed description of your site. It is OK, at this stage, if the site idea has changed from the initial pitch, either subtly or dramatically. This should lead with a clear one-sentence description, and then build with a paragraph explaining the site & idea in more detail.
  2. A clear description of the audience for this site.
  3. Interviews with three actual members of the audience/community you’re targeting (new folks, not the same faces), about the space your site is operating in (that is the concepts around it), not the site itself.
  4. Informed by these interviews, a discussion of the type of content you would like to do and at least ten specific content ideas.
  5. A plan for the integration of tools and media beyond simple text/blogging.
  6. A basic plan for marketing your site: How do you connect with the communities that are already out there?
  7. An overall plan for the equal distribution of labor: How will you share the reporting work? The data entry? The coding? The images/video/audio? The marketing?

Please bring in a hard copy that has been signed by every member of your group

Post any questions in the comments of this blog.

Filed under: Homework

Tools for Group Collaboration

the google suite
Google Docs
Google Calendar
Google Sites

the social networks
Facebook
Twitter

collaboration-focused tools
Basecamp
Drop.io

Filed under: Class Stuff

Twitter Assignment: 21 days

Twitter is a lot of things. One of them is that it’s very hard to explain. There’s one thing that is true though: It’s a new paradigm for communication and community, and it’s reaching critical mass.

Because of that, we’re going to do a deep dive into Twitter. The thing about Twitter is that it takes a little time to “get it” (and, even more importantly, what that “it” is will be different for each person). As a result, we’re going to follow the “21 days” concept: It takes 21 days of doing something regularly for it to become a habit.

So let’s form Twitter habits:

  • Starting by October 18th, you’ll need to sign up for an account on Twitter.
  • Follow me. My Twitter page is here. I will follow you back–though drop me an @ reply on twitter (that’s @dansinker) so I know you’re there, otherwise you may get lost in a new follower shuffle.
  • Also, post your twitter user name in the comments of this thread so that your classmates can find you.
  • You need to post to twitter at least 3 times a day. In addition, you need to @ reply to someone at least twice a day. That’s a MINIMUM of five tweets a day.
  • Follow new people every day. Here’s 10 good folks to get you started. Use Twitter Search to find other interesting people to follow (type in keywords of things that you find interesting, for example). I also find Google a great tool for finding people simply typing in their name followed by “twitter” tends to surface their Twitter account.
  • Every 3 days, in 140 characters, sum up what you’ve learned and include the hashtag #onlinej10 in your tweet. For example: retweeting can really spread a message quickly #onlinej10
  • Follow your classmates’ revelations by doing a twitter search for that hashtag
  • We’ll have a pretty good list of things we’ve learned on Twitter at the end of this experiment. Plus, you’ll have developed a pretty healthy Twitter habit by then.
  • At the end of our 21 days, write a 500 word summary of your time on Twitter, what you think it’s useful for, and how you see Journalism intersecting with it. That report will be due Friday November 12.

Another great thing about Twitter is that there are any number of ways to access it outside of the homepage. There are some great applications for accessing your tweets, like:
Tweetdeck
Tweetie
Twhirl
Twitteriffic

Twitter itself (and other people) makes excellent Apps for iPhone, Android, and Blackberry phones–check the respective app stores for those!

There are an almost countless list of interesting Twitter apps–The “app store” One Forty is fantastic for finding them.

Finally, one thing about having only 140 characters is that it makes it hard to paste in a real link. You’re going to need a URL shortener to do so. Personally, I like bit.ly, but people also use tinyurl and others.

For those just getting started on Twitter, there is an excellent guidebook published by Mashable. It’s online here.

See you on Twitter!

Filed under: Homework

Reports for next week

In addition to your pitches, you will be turning in a report. It should cover the following:

1) Have a name for your site (make sure this name is not already being used)
2) Give a clear and precise two-sentence description of the site
3) Outline the audience for this site–leverage your real-world audience research, give a complete sense of who these people are and what needs you’re fulfilling with your site.
4) Discuss the social media strategy for engaging that audience.

The report should be 500-700 words and pasted into the comments of this post.

Filed under: Homework

Pitches Next Week!

For next week you need to further refine your idea based on feedback from today and your audience research. You’ll take that refined idea and pitch it to the class, where we’ll vote and form our teams for the site development to follow.

Your pitches next week should be NO LONGER than two minutes and should consist of NO MORE than two slides. Here’s the breakdown of what you need to cover:

Slide one: The Idea
1) What’s the idea? BE SUCCINCT.
2) How does it manifest itself online?
3) What does the site accomplish?

Slide two: The Audience
1) Who’s the audience for your site?
2) How do you engage them? (“WITH GREAT CONTENT” IS NOT AN ANSWER)
3) What’s your Social Media strategy?

In addition, you will be turning in a written report (explained in the next post). Your grade will be for both the presentation and the report.

Filed under: Homework

Lecture Links 10-8-10

Page Rank Checker: a great tool for checking the PageRank of sites around the Internet.
Google: Obviously, great for search. But the new left-hand sidebar allows for narrowing that search to different media types. Unbelievably helpful.
Twitter Search: For finding a needle in the Twitter haystack.
Listorious: A great third-party tool for finding people and lists in Twitter.
Google Reader: Collecting RSS feeds.
Google Alerts: Can send to e-mail *or* to a feed, which you could then consume in Reader
Twitter Lists: A great way to curate a group of people you’re following in Twitter.

Filed under: Lecture Links

Other links about Online Journalism