The Policy Wiki: A new issue — climate change

Some of you may have read — either here or elsewhere — about one of the social-media projects that I’ve been involved with at the Globe, a joint venture with the Dominion Institute known as the Public Policy Wiki. We started the wiki in January, as a way of soliciting input from concerned Canadians about a range of public policy issues, and the first issue we launched with was the federal budget. Almost a thousand people signed up in a matter of two weeks, and we got dozens of excellent “briefing note”-style policy proposals submitted, commented on, voted on and promoted in the forums. On the day the budget was released, we took the two most popular proposals and sent them to the Finance Minister in Ottawa.

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The Globe and Mail: Using social media

I gave a short presentation at the Podcamp Toronto “unconference” a few days ago about some of the things we’re doing at the Globe and Mail (the national daily newspaper I work for in Toronto, for those of you from elsewhere), and a number of people asked me if I would be putting the slides up anywhere, so I uploaded them to Slideshare and have embedded the presentation here in this post (RSS readers can click here to go straight to Slideshare and see them). If you want to see and hear the presentation, there’s a video link at the Podcamp wiki.

Here’s the condensed version: I introduced myself as a former reporter, columnist, technology writer and blogger for the Globe who is now the paper’s online “communities editor,” for lack of a better term. That means I am trying to think of — and follow through on — as many different methods of creating, enhancing, fertilizing and connecting with communities of readers around various topics. I went through a few of the ways we are trying to do that, as well as the rationale behind them and what we have learned from them, and then I closed with what we are hoping to do in the future.

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meshU lineup keeps getting stronger

We’re really pleased to be hosting a stellar group of design, development and management thinkers (and do’ers) at meshU, the one-day Web tools conference that occurs just before the main mesh ’09 conference this year (meshU is April 6 and the main mesh conference is April 7th and 8th). We had a great response to some of the design and development speakers we had last year — including people like Daniel Burka from Digg, Leah Culver from Pownce, John Resig of jQuery and Alistair Croll of Rednod — and we think we’ve got some that are just as great this year.

The design stream includes people like:

Ryan Singer from 37signals, whose presentation is “Value Judgements in Interface Design”

Bruce Philp from GWP Brand Engineering, talking about “Ten Keys to a Branded User Experience”

Luke Andrews from Dabble DB on “Responsiveness: the Perception of Speed in Web Applications”

Joshua Porter from Bokardo looking at “Design for Virality”

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WSJ: We charge, so why don’t you?

Not a day goes by without someone adding their thoughts to the growing pile of opinion about what newspapers should do when it comes to charging for content online. The latest treatise comes from L. Gordon Crovitz, a columnist with the Wall Street Journal — whose opinion is notable if only because his publication is one of the few that actually does so successfully. Not only that, but Crovitz is also the former publisher of the WSJ and the former head of Dow Jones Consumer Media Group, and helped launch the Factiva information group. As he describes it:

For a decade beginning in the late 1990s, I was the Dow Jones executive chiefly charged with defending the paid-subscription business model of The Wall Street Journal’s Web site. The skunk at every Internet-bubble-era garden party, the Journal team was often told we “just didn’t get it,” that information wants to be free and the paid model was idiotic.

Is there just a little gloating there, underneath the surface? Possibly — and perhaps some of it is justified. In any case, Crovitz wants to make the case that newspaper publishers gave up too easily in the fight to charge for content, and that they need to think about how to make their content worth paying for instead of whining about it quite so much. And he notes that there are many examples of publications and services that get people to pay for what they produce:

(read the rest of this post at the Nieman Journalism Lab)

Journalism, or irresponsible rumour-mongering?

TechCrunch, one of the Web’s top tech blogs, sparked a firestorm of criticism with a recent story about Last.fm — the popular music-sharing network that CBS acquired last year — by reporting that the service had turned over a pile of user information to the Recording Industry Association of America. The story turned out not to be true, and Last.fm co-founder Richard Jones responded with a blistering denial, in which he said that TechCrunch was “full of shit.” Plenty of people on Twitter and elsewhere have been using the piece as a stick with which to beat TechCrunch, arguing that the report was irresponsible and the blog has lost all (or most) of its credibility as a result, etc. (some good perspective from MG Siegler here).

Pretty open and shut, right? After all, Erick Schonfeld relied on an unidentified and third-hand source (someone with a friend at CBS, who said they were upset by the handing over of data). The more I thought about this story, however, the less comfortable I felt joining the crowd with torches and pitchforks outside TechCrunch’s door. Was the story clearly wrong? Yes. How closely did Erick check the source? We don’t know. But what we do know is that Erick tried repeatedly to get a comment from the company, and got a one-liner dismissal (which he included).

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