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Digital Tools for Journalism.

In the first of a series of digital journalism training sessions as part of my MA, I’ve managed to discover some amazing new social networking and online publishing & sharing tools that I either hadn’t heard of or never really thought were relevant.  Here’s some of the one’s that stood out in our discussions.

 

The problem with social technology is that there is so so much out there.  This is also the great thing about social technology.

 

Delicious – I’d always avoided Delicious and bookmarking sites in general because I never liked the idea of my bookmarks being public.  Now that’s I’ve had time to properly think about it, I think a few things have changed my mind…

  1. You can choose what is public and what is private.  So you can use Delicious for two completely separate purposes, and even keep it entirely private if you want.
  2. The idea of sharing your links actually is quite appealing (hence why I have a links page on this site!) and maybe bookmarking sites are a great tool for keeping them organised.
  3. The search function is great… it’s a far more regulated version of google, where people actually have to value something enough to share it, before it will show up in search results.

 

Trunk.ly – Another bookmark service whose attracting feature is that it will automatically aggregate all the links shared by people you follow on Facebook, Twitter or other social networking sites.  This is probably very effecient for people who follow people like me – who often share links on Twitter but don’t collect them anywhere.

Essentially I guess its a tool for people who want to use a bookmarking search engine when the people you are interested in aren’t on a bookmarking website.  My only issue with this is privacy in letting it access your twitter (though the fact that twitter is open anyway probably negates this worry).

 

Ifttt – Long name: ‘If this, then that.’  Essentially an amalgamation of automatic posting tools, this site allows you to set up prompts so that when ‘this’ (a time of day, a post on your blog) happens, then ‘that’ (post to twitter, send an email) happens.

My first impressions are that this is an amazing toy, and also that it’s very handy to create any customized automatic postings that you need.  However I’m wary of this type of automation because I worry that it takes away the personal, human nature and voice of social networking?  I wouldn’t argue that too far though, I don’t think it’s a massive problem.  It’s just for the time being I avoid any automatic posting, as I prefer my postings to be more sporadic and natural.  As our lecturer pointed out though, the point of these tools is time saving, and I’m fully aware that if things such as my blog became more popular and regular, then automation tool might quickly become invauable.

 

Google Reader – Google Reader was the one site covered that I do already use.  Google reader is an RSS feed reader that can collate blogs and any websites with changing content, that you read.  It puts them all in one place for you to check for new posts and then usual read within the reader too.

On thinking about it, I collate everything on the web using either Google Reader or Twitter.  If there is a person or company that interests me then I will first follow them on twitter.  If they have an interesting blog or website that I think I’ll regularly keep up with, it will go on my Google Reader.  That’s essentially my way of keeping contacts.  I rarely even keep a note of websites or email addresses because I know I can go into my twitter contacts and find every person I would be interested in, and follow through to get contact details.

I have found Google reader invaluable since I first got into blogs back in 2008, just because it was by far the easiest way to keep up with latest posts.  My only qualm still is that I miss a lot of the beautiful designs of some of the blogs I read.  I appreciate that you can’t really have both though, and when I have time I still make a visit to the website itself.

 

Tracking sharing – Another interesting question that came out of this lecture was how tools like Google Reader and aggregation sites like Delicious affect user stats and Google Analytics. For example, when I read a blog purely via my Google Reader, does that show up in any way on that person’s Google Analytics or other website stats?  And, what are the main tools for tracking click throughs to your site from url shortening services like bit.ly.  I’m not fully sure how this works yet but I plan to look into it and report back on my findings and what I think.

 

As a final note I have to comment on the difference between this one (of many to come) Digitial Journalism lecture, and my past social technology experience.  To be blunt I was more inspired and leant more in that one session that in probably all my previous ‘training’ and industry experience all put together.  Gotta show my appreciation for people who really get into the nitty gritty of digital media and really know how it’s working and changing.  (My irritation in the past has come from those who ‘teach’ social media without admitting that we’re all kind of making it up as we go along and have all been exposed to it for the same amount of time, and also without often knowing too much themselves about the advances.)

 

Thoughts??

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