Bookmarked Local News for Richmond & Wayne County, Indiana (Richmond & Wayne County, Indiana News)
Richmond, IN and Wayne County, Indiana news and headlines from local newspapers and other sources
This is a fascinating local news aggregator built by Chris Hardie. It’s somewhat reminiscent of my own local news aggregation work, though mine is in the form of a less accessible OPML file of local news feeds that one could subscribe to in a feed reader. It certainly took more work for him to build, but I’d also guess he’s got more people reading it than are taking advantage of my own set of curated feeds.
Read A tool for keeping up with local news and events (Richmond Matters)
The short version of this post is that if you’re someone like me who enjoys keeping up with Richmond and Wayne County local news and events (and maybe you’re a little tired of the way social media filters what you are and aren’t seeing), you can: visit 47374.info to see the latest info coming in …

One thing that using this tool has highlighted for me is that there are a lot of things happening in our community every day, between news, announcements, events and other stuff. If you only rely on what your social media service of choice has decided is worth knowing because it’s generating clicks or discussion, you’re likely to miss something important. Also, do you really want to get your news crammed in between cat videos and political rants from distant acquaintances?

Annotated on January 17, 2020 at 01:20PM

How to follow the complete output of journalists and other writers?

In a digital era with a seemingly ever-decreasing number of larger news outlets paying journalists and other writers for their work, the number of working writers who find themselves working for one or more outlets is rapidly increasing. 

This is sure to leave journalists wondering how to better serve their own personal brand either when they leave a major publication for which they’ve long held an association (examples: Walt Mossberg leaving The New York Times or Leon Wieseltier leaving The New Republic)  or alternatively when they’re just starting out and writing for fifty publications and attempting to build a bigger personal following for their work which appears in many locations (examples include nearly everyone out there).

Increasingly I find myself doing insane things to try to follow the content of writers I love. The required gymnastics are increasingly complex to try to track writers across hundreds of different outlets and dozens of social media sites and other platforms (filtering out unwanted results is particularly irksome). One might think that in our current digital media society, it would be easy to find all the writing output of a professional writer like Ta-nehisi Coates, for example, in one centralized place.

I’m also far from the only one. In fact, I recently came across this note by Kevin:

I wish there was a way to subscribe to writers the same way you can use RSS. Obviously twitter gets you the closest, but usually a whole lot more than just the articles they’ve written. It would be awesome if every time Danny Chau or Wesley Morris published a piece I’d know.

The subsequent conversation in his comments or  on Micro.blog (a fairly digital savvy crowd) was less than heartening for further ideas.

As Kevin intimates, most writers and journalists are on Twitter because that’s where a lot of the attention is. But sadly Twitter can be a caustic and toxic place for many. It also means sifting through a lot of intermediary tweets to get to the few a week that are the actual work product articles that one wants to read. This also presumes that one’s favorite writer is on Twitter, still using Twitter, or hasn’t left because they feel it’s a time suck or because of abuse, threats, or other issues (examples: Ta-Nehisi Coates, Lindy West, Sherman Alexie). 

What does the universe of potential solutions for this problem currently look like?

Potential Solutions

Aggregators

One might think that an aggregation platform like Muck Rack which is trying to get journalists to use their service and touts itself as “The easiest, unlimited way to build your portfolio, grow your following and quantify your impact—for free” might provide journalists the ability to easily import their content via RSS feeds and then provide those same feeds back out so that their readers/fans could subscribe to them easily. How exactly are they delivering on that promise to writers to “grow your following”?!

An illustrative example I’ve found on Muck Rack is Ryan O’Hanlon, a Los Angeles-based writer, who writes for  a variety of outlets including The Guardian, The New York Times, ESPN, BuzzFeed, ESPN Deportes, Salon, ESPN Brasil, FiveThirtyEight, The Ringer, and others. As of today they’ve got 410 of his articles archived and linked there. Sadly, there’s no way for a fan of his work to follow him there. Even if the site provided an RSS feed of titles and synopses that forced one to read his work on the original outlet, that would be a big win for readers, for Ryan, and for the outlets he’s writing for–not to mention a big win for Muck Rack and their promise.

I’m sure there have to be a dozen or so other aggregation sites like Muck Rack hiding out there doing something similar, but I’ve yet to find the real tool for which I’m looking. And if that tool exists, it’s poorly distributed and unlikely to help me for 80% of the writers I’m interested in following much less 5%.

Author Controlled Websites

Possibly the best choice for everyone involved would be for writers to have their own websites where they archive their own written work and provide a centralized portfolio for their fans and readers to follow them regardless of where they go or which outlet they’re writing for. They could keep their full pieces privately on the back end, but give titles, names of outlets, photos, and synopses on their sites with links back to the original as traditional blog posts. This pushes the eyeballs towards the outlets that are paying their bills while still allowing their fans to easily follow everything they’re writing. Best of all the writer could own and control it all from soup to nuts.

If I were a journalist doing this on the cheap and didn’t want it to become a timesuck, I’d probably spin up a simple WordPress website and use the excellent and well-documented PressForward project/plugin to completely archive and aggregate my published work, but use their awesome forwarding functionality so that those visiting the URLs of the individual pieces would be automatically redirected to the original outlet. This is a great benefit for writers many of whom know the pain of having written for outlets that have gone out of business, been bought out, or even completely disappeared from the web. 

Of course, from a website, it’s relatively easy to automatically cross-post your work to any number of other social platforms to notify the masses if necessary, but at least there is one canonical and centralized place to find a writer’s proverbial “meat and potatoes”. If you’re not doing something like this at a minimum, you’re just making it hard for your fans and failing at the very basics of building your own brand, which in part is to get even more readers. (Hint, the more readers and fans you’ve got, the more eyeballs you bring to the outlets you’re writing for, and in a market economy built on clicks, more eyeballs means more traffic, which means more money in the writer’s pocket. Since a portion of the web traffic would be going through an author’s website, they’ll have at least a proportional idea of how many eyeballs they’re pushing.)

I can’t help but point out that even some who have set up their own websites aren’t quite doing any of this right or even well. We can look back at Ryan O’Hanlon above with a website at https://www.ryanwohanlon.com/. Sadly he’s obviously let the domain registration lapse, and it has been taken over by a company selling shoes. We can compare this with the slight step up that Mssr. Coates has made by not only owning his own domain and having an informative website featuring his books, but alas there’s not even a link to his work for The Atlantic or any other writing anywhere else. Devastatingly his RSS feed isn’t linked, but if you manage to find it on his website, you’ll be less-than-enthralled by three posts of Lorem ipsum from 2017. Ugh! What has the world devolved to? (I can only suspect that his website is run by his publisher who cares about the book revenue and can’t be bothered to update his homepage with events that are now long past.)

Examples of some journalists/writers who are doing some interesting work, experimentation, or making an effort in this area include: Richard MacManus,  Marina Gerner, Dan Gillmor, Jay RosenBill Bennett, Jeff JarvisAram Zucker-Scharff, and Tim Harford

One of my favorite examples is John Naughton who writes a regular column for the Guardian. He has his own site where he posts links, quotes, what he’s reading, his commentary, and quotes of his long form writing elsewhere along with links to full pieces on those sites. I have no problem following some or all of his output there since his (WordPress-based) site has individual feeds for either small portions or all of it. (I’ve also written a short case study on Ms. Gerner’s site in the past as well.)

Newsletters

Before anyone says, “What about their newsletters?” I’ll admit that both O’Hanlon and Coates both have newsletters, but what’s to guarantee that they’re doing a better job of pushing all of their content though those outlets? Most of my experience with newsletters would indicate that’s definitely not the case with most writers, and again, not all writers are going to have newsletters, which seem to be the flavor-of-the month in terms of media distribution. What are we to do when newsletters are passé in 6 months? (If you don’t believe me, just recall the parable of all the magazines and writers that moved from their own websites or Tumblr to Medium.com.)

Tangential projects

I’m aware of some one-off tools that come close to the sort of notifications of writers’ work that might be leveraged or modified into a bigger tool or stand alone platform. Still, most of these are simple uni-taskers and only fix small portions of the overall problem.

Extra Extra

Savemy.News

Ben Walsh of the Los Angeles Times Data Desk has created a simple web interface at www.SaveMy.News that journalists can use to quickly archive their stories to the Internet Archive and WebCite. One can log into the service via Twitter and later download a .csv file with a running list of all their works with links to the archived copies. Adding on some functionality to add feeds and make them discoverable to a tool like this could be a boon.

Granary

Ryan Barrett has a fantastic open source tool called Granary that “Fetches and converts data between social networks, HTML and JSON with microformats2, ActivityStreams 1 and 2, AtomRSSJSON Feed, and more.” This could be a solid piece of a bigger process that pulls from multiple sources, converts them into a common format, and outputs them in a single subscribe-able location.

Splash page image and social logos from Granary.io

SubToMe

A big problem that has pushed us away from RSS and other formatted feed readers is providing an easy method of subscribing to content. Want to follow someone on Twitter? Just click a button and go. Wishing it were similar for a variety of feed types, Julien Genestoux‘s SubToMe has created a universal follow button that allows a one-click subscription option (with lots of flexibility and even bookmarklets) for following content feeds on the open web.

Splash image on SubToMe's home page

Others?

Have you seen any other writers/technologists who have solved this problem? Are there aggregation platforms that solve the problem in reverse? Small pieces that could be loosely joined into a better solution? What else am I missing?

How can we encourage more writers to take this work into their own hands to provide a cleaner solution for their audiences? Isn’t it in their own best interest to help their readers find their work?

I’ve curated portions of a journalism page on  IndieWeb wiki to include some useful examples, pointers, and resources that may help in solving portions of this problem. Other ideas and solutions are most welcome!

Replied to a tweet by Alexis LloydAlexis Lloyd (Twitter)
For quite a while Kicks Condor (@kickscondor) has been doing some cool experimentation on the web including directories, syndication/aggregation hubs, and even their blog (click on the FILE_ID.DIZ link at the top of the homepage for an overview). Viva la !
Bookmarked The Open Faculty Patchbook | A Community Quilt of Pedagogy (openfacultypatchbook.org)
Fleming College faculty (and anyone else who’d like to add!) are building a community patchwork of ‘chapters’ into a quasi-textbook about pedagogy for teaching & learning in college. This space is that work in progress. Each patch of the quilt/chapter of the book (let’s call it a patch book) will focus on one pedagogical skill and be completed and published by an individual faculty member. Wherever possible, we’d like to have the student perspective embedded in the work as well.

👓 Spotify’s Podcast Aggregation Play | Stratechery by Ben Thompson

Read Spotify’s Podcast Aggregation Play by Ben Thompson (Stratechery)
Spotify is making a major move into podcasts, where it appears to have clear designs to be the sort of Aggregator it cannot be when it comes to music.
An interesting take on Spotify’s recent acquisitions. I’m worried what a more active aggregator play in the podcast space will look like, particularly with most of the players (by this I mean companies) in the audio game using players (by this I mean the actual JavaScript interfaces that play online audio) hiding the actual audio files.

Reply to Taylor Jadin about planet functionality for education

Replied to a tweet by Taylor JadinTaylor Jadin (Twitter)
It was a pretty productive Open Domains Lab for me. Got my sort "funnel" site set somewhat set up using FeedWordpress. http://taylor.jadin.me/
I’m curious to hear your thoughts after using it. It sounds like it has a lot of functionality overlap with Press Forward (for WordPress). Planet-like functionality is commonly requested in the education and technology space. Are there others? Stephen DownesgRSShopper perhaps?

 

 

👓 Slate’s Today’s Papers invented aggregation journalism. | Slate

Read Today’s Papers: Slate’s First Hit Feature Invented the Modern Web, Kind Of (Slate Magazine)
Its name suggests a slower-moving past, when much still depended on the morning thump of fresh-printed broadsheets landing on doorsteps. Its concept presaged a lightning-quick future, when much of what we read is attitude-laced summary of someone else’s work. It was Slate’s first smash-hit feature and, for better or worse, its most influential. “Today’s Papers,” says Michael Kinsley, Slate’s founding editor, “deserves some tiny bit of credit for the ruination of journalism.”

Highlights, Quotes, Annotations, & Marginalia

That enterprising writer could read the papers the moment they went online in the wee hours, summarize their lead stories and other juicy pieces, and post this briefing on Slate before the paperboys could toss physical copies onto driveways in Middle America’s cul-de-sacs.  

For me, it wasn’t so much the summary, but who was it that had the best coverage. It was the comparison of the coverage. I read most of the particular stories anyway.
October 22, 2018 at 09:28PM

The Today’s Papers job was first offered to Matt Drudge,  

October 22, 2018 at 09:29PM

Anyone can open up Twitter and instantly know what the world is gabbing about from minute to minute, all day long, across thousands of electronic sources that are instantly available all over the globe.  

But we don’t get the journalistic criticism of the coverage, who’s doing it better, who’s more thorough, etc. We’re still missing that.
October 22, 2018 at 09:32PM

👓 What We Learned from Studying the News Consumption Habits of College Students | Dan Cohen

Read What We Learned from Studying the News Consumption Habits of College Students by Dan CohenDan Cohen (Dan Cohen)
Over the last year, I was fortunate to help guide a study of the news consumption habits of college students, and coordinate Northeastern University Library’s services for the study, including great work by our data visualization specialist Steven Braun and necessary infrastructure from our digital team, including Sarah Sweeney and Hillary Corbett. “How Students Engage with News,” out today as both a long article and accompanying datasets and media, provides a full snapshot of how college students navigate our complex and high-velocity media environment.

Highlights, Quotes, Annotations, & Marginalia

Side note: After recently seeing Yale Art Gallery’s show “Seriously Funny: Caricature Through the Centuries,” I think there’s a good article to be written about the historical parallels between today’s visual memes and political cartoons from the past.  

This also makes me think back to other entertainments of the historical poor including the use/purpose of stained glass windows in church supposedly as a means of entertaining the illiterate Latin vulgate masses.
October 22, 2018 at 08:07PM

nearly 6,000 students from a wide variety of institutions  

Institutions = colleges/universities? Or are we also considering less educated youth as well?
October 22, 2018 at 08:08PM

A more active stance by librarians, journalists, educators, and others who convey truth-seeking habits is essential.  

In some sense these people can also be viewed as aggregators and curators of sorts. How can their work be aggregated and be used to compete with the poor algorithms of social media?
October 22, 2018 at 08:11PM

👓 On Using Titles, Tags, and Categories | Greg McVerry

Read On Using Titles, Tags, and Categories by Greg McVerryGreg McVerry (jgregorymcverry.com)
There seems to be some confusion uin about when to add a title and when to leave a post with a title. This is the the choice is utimatley yours. If a one word post deserves a title..give it one;…a 3,000 word treatsie doesn’t need it…then skip it. Best Practice Yet here is a q...
I still need to figure out how I want to structure tags for individual modules. Is it really worthile? Who would use them and how would those be used?

While I like the idea of “backstage” posts, I’m not sure that tagging them as such has as much value to me. Since my site is my living commonplace book, such a tag doesn’t have as much meaning somehow. I’ll have to think about it and figure out what I want to do there. I can see some value for syndicating out, or potentially to fellow classmates, but I’d suspect that for the volume of content I’m producing with the edu522 tag, it may not be as valuable. Perhaps in a larger class it might or one in which I was producing a much higher volume of posts? Time will tell, but some of these mechanics could be useful/valueable to think about for teachers vis-a-vis their classrooms and digital pedagogy based on expected class size and post volume as well as how they might structure their “planets”.

🔖 [1806.00871] A Framework for Aggregating Private and Public Web Archives | arXiv

Bookmarked [1806.00871] A Framework for Aggregating Private and Public Web Archives by Mat Kelly, Michael L. Nelson, Michele C. Weigle (arxiv.org)
Personal and private Web archives are proliferating due to the increase in the tools to create them and the realization that Internet Archive and other public Web archives are unable to capture personalized (e.g., Facebook) and private (e.g., banking) Web pages. We introduce a framework to mitigate issues of aggregation in private, personal, and public Web archives without compromising potential sensitive information contained in private captures. We amend Memento syntax and semantics to allow TimeMap enrichment to account for additional attributes to be expressed inclusive of the requirements for dereferencing private Web archive captures. We provide a method to involve the user further in the negotiation of archival captures in dimensions beyond time. We introduce a model for archival querying precedence and short-circuiting, as needed when aggregating private and personal Web archive captures with those from public Web archives through Memento. Negotiation of this sort is novel to Web archiving and allows for the more seamless aggregation of various types of Web archives to convey a more accurate picture of the past Web.
Replied to Chris Jones on Twitter (Twitter)
A1. Personally I have multiple Wordpress sites, and I'm working on a stand-alone domain for my higher-end, highest-value .. all are candidates to aggregate relevant insights, yes? Pros/Cons? #smchat #contentseries
@sourcePOV I like @jgmac1106‘s general idea, but having less overhead to manage and administer appealed to me a lot. Here’s some thoughts on what I ended up doing: http://boffosocko.com/2016/12/18/rss-feeds-a-follow-up-on-my-indieweb-commitment-2017/

tl;dr: Having fewer sites to deal with seemed like a stronger idea. I still wanted to feature the richer content over the smaller tidbits while also not overwhelming people who had subscribed in the past. I also took into account trying to make it relatively easy for people to subscribe to the particular data they want/need out of my website. My home page has a list of various post kinds available which may be useful to think about as well.

@mrkrndvs has played around in this area of aggregation as well with a few different websites and may have some insight too.

Whatever you decide, be sure to have some fun along the way.

🔖 PressForward in the classroom

Bookmarked PressForward in the classroom (pressforward.org)
Do you want to work with students to publish class assignments or research? Instructors use PressForward in the classroom to consolidate and review student assignments, help students learn to survey their fields, and create opportunities for collaboration, communication, and research. The Lewis & Clark College Environmental Studies Program produces Environment Across Boundaries, a student-led publication that cultivates interdisciplinary perspectives on environmental issues. Participation gives students an opportunity to engage with their discipline through experiential, project based learning. They develop skills both in their field and with a suite of digital tools.
An interesting use case for PressForward: creating a “planet” website to aggregate and/or showcase work of students in an entire classroom who are all posting content to their own separate web spaces.

Sketch idea: create a standalone WordPress site for a course, install the PressForward plugin, input the RSS feeds for students’ websites to aggregate all their work collectively into one space. Various ideas include:

  • Use the feed for students and teacher to keep up with the entire classroom.
  • Publish an OPML file for students to easily subscribe to all feeds in their feed reader of choice.
  • Optionally publish the highlights of the best work or even all of it.
  • Teachers could use the feed to check that students are posting/keeping up with assignments for grading purposes.
  • Use the read/unread functionality to “mark” pieces as graded/ungraded or seen/unseen.
  • Use the internal commenting system to keep private notes on student’s work.
  • Create output feeds for specific tags and/or categories
  • Works with any student sites that produce feeds, not just WordPress, so students have choices of different CMSes.
  • Use the nomination functionality to quickly aggregate and disseminate online sources for classroom assignments or readings.

I had contemplated planet like aggregation at the recent WPCampus online conference. It’s interesting to see that PressForward has considered it as a use case as well though I’d love to hear about or see examples of this in the wild.

How else could this rich, multi-functional Swiss Army knife-like plugin be used in education?

Cartoon diagram with a funnel collecting content from sites like YouTube, WordPress, Drupal, Blogger, RSS being aggregated into a single computer-based website.
Diagram of PressForward functionality as a content hub or “planet” courtesy of PressForward.org

Reply to Laying the Standards for a Blogging Renaissance by Aaron Davis

Replied to Laying the Standards for a Blogging Renaissance by Aaron Davis (Read Write Respond)
With the potential demise of social media, does this offer a possible rebirth of blogging communities and the standards they are built upon?
Aaron, some excellent thoughts and pointers.

A lot of your post also reminds me of Bryan Alexander’s relatively recent post I defy the world and to go back to RSS.

I completely get the concept of what you’re getting at with harkening back to the halcyon days of RSS. I certainly love, use, and rely on it heavily both for consumption as well as production. Of course there’s also still the competing standard of Atom still powering large parts of the web (including GNU Social networks like Mastodon). But almost no one looks back fondly on the feed format wars…

I think that while many are looking back on the “good old days” of the web, that we not forget the difficult and fraught history that has gotten us to where we are. We should learn from the mistakes made during the feed format wars and try to simplify things to not only move back, but to move forward at the same time.

Today, the easier pared-down standards that are better and simpler than either of these old and and difficult specs is simply adding Microformat classes to HTML (aka P.O.S.H) to create feeds. Unless one is relying on pre-existing infrastructure like WordPress, building and maintaining RSS feed infrastructure can be difficult at best, and updates almost never occur, particularly for specifications that support new social media related feeds including replies, likes, favorites, reposts, etc. The nice part is that if one knows how to write basic html, then one can create a simple feed by hand without having to learn the mark up or specifics of RSS. Most modern feed readers (except perhaps Feedly) support these new h-feeds as they’re known. Interestingly, some CMSes like WordPress support Microformats as part of their core functionality, though in WordPress’ case they only support a subsection of Microformats v1 instead of the more modern v2.

For those like you who are looking both backward and simultaneously forward there’s a nice chart of “Lost Infractructure” on the IndieWeb wiki which was created following a post by Anil Dash entitled The Lost Infrastructure of Social Media. Hopefully we can take back a lot of the ground the web has lost to social media and refashion it for a better and more flexible future. I’m not looking for just a “hipster-web”, but a new and demonstrably better web.

The Lost Infrastructure of the Web from the IndieWeb Wiki (CC0)

Some of the desire to go back to RSS is built into the problems we’re looking at with respect to algorithmic filtering of our streams (we’re looking at you Facebook.) While algorithms might help to filter out some of the cruft we’re not looking for, we’ve been ceding too much control to third parties like Facebook who have different motivations in presenting us material to read. I’d rather my feeds were closer to the model of fine dining rather than the junk food that the-McDonald’s-of-the-internet Facebook is providing. As I’m reading Cathy O’Neil’s book Weapons of Math Distraction, I’m also reminded that the black box that Facebook’s algorithm is is causing scale and visibility/transparency problems like the Russian ad buys which could have potentially heavily influenced the 2017 election in the United States. The fact that we can’t see or influence the algorithm is both painful and potentially destructive. If I could have access to tweaking a third-party transparent algorithm, I think it would provide me a lot more value.

As for OPML, it’s amazing what kind of power it has to help one find and subscribe to all sorts of content, particularly when it’s been hand curated and is continually self-dogfooded. One of my favorite tools are readers that allow one to subscribe to the OPML feeds of others, that way if a person adds new feeds to an interesting collection, the changes propagate to everyone following that feed. With this kind of simple technology those who are interested in curating things for particular topics (like the newsletter crowd) or even creating master feeds for class material in a planet-like fashion can easily do so. I can also see some worthwhile uses for this in journalism for newspapers and magazines. As an example, imagine if one could subscribe not only to 100 people writing about , but to only their bookmarked articles that have the tag edtech (thus filtering out their personal posts, or things not having to do with edtech). I don’t believe that Feedly supports subscribing to OPML (though it does support importing OPML files, which is subtly different), but other readers like Inoreader do.

I’m hoping to finish up some work on my own available OPML feeds to make subscribing to interesting curated content a bit easier within WordPress (over the built in, but now deprecated link manager functionality.) Since you mentioned it, I tried checking out the OPML file on your blog hoping for something interesting in the space. Alas… 😉 Perhaps something in the future?