It's been a busy few weeks for ReportingOn, with development of Phase 2 continuing behind the scenes, and a lot of public conversation about the network's start and continuation as I've traveled to San Jose and Philadelphia in recent days.
In San Jose, I gave a short talk on ReportingOn as part of my requirements at San José State University's School of Journalism and Mass Communications, where I've now finished up a graduate degree. The audience, mostly made up of my fellow grad students and the faculty, had some great questions and feedback for me, much of it focused on how to work with/around the likely presence of public relations and marketing pros who could flock to an open system full of journalists neatly divided up by beat and location.
A few weeks later, I attended BarCamp NewsInnovation in Philadelphia -- BCNIPhilly.
I could spend a few paragraphs here talking about how much I enjoyed the BarCamp (un)conference format, where attendees signed up upon arrival to lead discussions in a classroom setting at Temple University, and sessions bloomed throughout the day as the conversations worked their way into the hall, then back into a wider conversation. I could spend a lot of time on that, actually, but I'll just leave it at this: It was the most productive journalism meetup of any sort I've been to yet. It's going to be extremely difficult the next time I have to sit through a panel of "experts" opining on abstract concepts.
Here's the presentation [PDF] I gave in Philadelphia before the conversation really got going. It's about ReportingOn's launch, progress, and current state of re-development. Matter of fact, it's embedded right here. (Full-screen mode works best.)
The discussion in Philadelphia was fantastic, with plenty of working journalists, students, thinkers, and educators in the room.
Here are my notes from that conversation:
(Please feel free to add your own questions and answers int he comment thread on this post!)
- Q: How will users build their network? (As in, how will users figure out who/what interests them?)
- A: Well, that's where forcing users to choose a few beats on signup and displaying some popular/latest stuff in a lot of places will help.
- Q: So will I be able to import my existing social graph?
- A: Well, hey, y'know, sure, we can make that happen, but the idea here is to connect with new people outside your existing social graph. You want to find people with valuable information/experience and add them to your social graph.
- Q: Hey, so what happened to that idea where you were going to populate this with Twitter? Like, "@reportingon water quality in Long Island #water #longisland" ?
- A: Every time you tell someone they're Twittering wrong, a LOLcat dies. Meaning, hey, yeah, you can get a few core users to adopt the syntax you need to parse, but not many of them. Why don't I ever use Foamee to "owe" someone a beer on Twitter? Because it's hard as heck to remember the required syntax.
- Idea: RO2 looks like an evolution of message board systems.
- Idea: RO2 looks like a beatblogging tool, something a single reporter or small group could use as an element of the backchannel they're trying to build with their own sources.
- Note: Good explanation of a backchannel: "Twitter is the backchannel for [NAME OF CONFERENCE]; ReportingOn is the backchannel for your beat."
- Note: Mention of college media newsrooms resonated with student journalists. Thinking about tailoring "an introduction" section for the presentation to better present the problem to the specific audience.
- Note: Every time I use my "Your real competition is the Web" line, people perk up. They get that.
- Note: People dig the Phase 2 mockups. They seem to like the new direction, and the look of it.
So, what do you think? Take a look at the presentation and add your feedback here. What's catching your eye? What questions haven't I considered? The developers are in the lab, putting the pieces together. I can't wait to see what happens next.