Posts Tagged ‘Publishing’

Newsmastering Architecture for News Radars

Tuesday, February 16th, 2010

Newsmastering is about multiple people (e.g. your employees) pointing to interesting resources from various sources (e.g. social media, industry reports and news sites) and then a newsmaster selecting, editing and publishing high quality content to other users (e.g. your customers) to aggregate.

Newsmastering is about being an information DJ: as an expert, you select highly valuable resources as a News Radar for your readers. If this radar is on your company website, it enables more dynamic content and thus a good reason for your readers to return to your site periodically. As an added benefit, search engines are going to reward your activities.

Here is our Newsmastering Architecture me and Ville Orkas from Dicole implemented for these purposes:

4359962483 b039c1d6bb Newsmastering Architecture for News Radars

Dicole Newsmastering Architecture

What we essentially have is:

  1. Our employees and partners link to interesting resources or publish their own content online.
  2. The sources get picked up by a fully automated news hub, that analyzes the sources. Our hub discovers the original URLs, makes automatic summaries of articles, discovers original sources, creates links for link tracking and fetches website screenshots and/or first image from the news item for publishing purposes.
  3. The sources get synced with a newsmastering database, in this case we are talking about a small news database application built with Zoho Creator.
  4. The newsmater uses the news database to rewrite a) titles b) descriptions c) sources d) authors and other relevant information. Also the newsmaster picks a relevant picture for the news item, e.g. a website screenshot or an image from the news item itself.
  5. Once the newsmaster is happy with the refined item, it is marked for publication.
  6. Dicole Radar on website picks up the published items and generates a News Radar available here.
  7. Yahoo Pipes takes the published articles and generates a proper RSS feed out of the news database.
  8. Google FeedBurner provides additional features for the RSS feed.
  9. The hand picked news items in the RSS feed are published through APIs (empowered with Twitterfeed) to Facebook, Twitter and other relevant services.
  10. A Social Media Listening Architecture is used for following reactions to hand picked news radar items online.

Basically our implementation is a very elegant Web 2.0 mashup, using the latest technologies to build an application with the least ammount of effort. Here is the final result on our website:

ishot 210 300x205 Newsmastering Architecture for News Radars

Dicole Radar at

Newsmastering is something that is fully enabled by RSS and powerful middleware technologies. Newsmastering is something wire editors should do at every publisher wanting to be effective online.

Newsmastering once well implemented, is quick and doesn’t require much additional resources. You are harnessing the power of your network to discover the most relevant resources anyway.

Bloggers and specialized explorers on various topics should provide a service like this to their readers. Simply linking to resources through Twitter and etc. is not enough: specialists know what their readers need and can describe in a concise way why a certain resource is useful. Sometimes the titles of original posts are not very good and thus rewriting the titles is important for additional value.

There are multiple different ways for implementing news radars. If you are interested, Dicole is now providing consulting for publishers who are looking for implementing their own News Radars to increase the speed, relevance and impact of their content online.

Fake blog award 2007:

Friday, October 26th, 2007

This had to happen. Fake blogs have landed to Finland. Millan blogi is the worst case I’ve seen so far. It has FAKE written all over it with invisible ink. I can almost imagine how the marketing department at PICNIC (a cafe francise) and some clueless ad-agency got together to envision a new format to reach their customers:

Our marketing is not effective enough. We are not reaching the 25-35 year olds through traditional means. We have heard that 25-35 year olds use the web and find their news online.

Clueless ad-agency:
We have a revolutionary idea: lets use the web as a medium and blogs as a platform to create an effective marketing campaign!

Hooray! How come we didn’t come up with that ourselves, it’s so obvious! Thank you, thank you, thank you… Let’s get right down to details…

Clueless ad-agency:
Hold on, we will send you an exp…eerr innovative offer with all the details by monday. We look forward to work with you on the best viral campaign the world has seen so far!

As if Finland needs more failed viral campaigns… The end result is a blog, run by an imaginary 30-something Milla, an easy going and funny woman living in a buzzling city, probably Helsinki. She is once in a while dropping by at Café PICNIC for a sandwitch or two to fatten the bottom line of the company while going to the gym. She obviously has a blog to report that. Get addicted to her stories by following her for months.

That’s where the whole plan starts to go horribly wrong. A huge marketing budget with high production values meets low-cost social media… a combination that has no taste nor future.

Let me go through a few of the disgraceful mistakes in this “blog”:

  • On the front page you can’t identify right away if the site is a blog written by some girl called Milla, or just a cheesy commercial. This is unforgivingly misguiding for the readers.
  • The front page features 9 fake pictures taken by professional photographers with pro-cameras. The photos scream “I’m fake” right at you.
  • A commercial starts to play immediatly to disrupt you. It scares you to death with its unauthenticity
  • The content is written in first person but the whole story is childish, cheesy and hard to believe. The story and language of Milla looks deliberately crafted. The truth shines through shamelessly: it’s not written by a real person called Milla, but some cheap part-time trainee at the clueless ad-agency
  • The posts appear in a strict schedule every monday (sometimes tuesday, because the trainee was lazy), drifting the story totally out of context
  • The blog refers to PICNIC in about half of the posts without any warning of affilliates

Technically speaking, this site misuses the whole concept of a blog:

  • No permalink to refer to each blog post separately
  • No RSS feed to subscribe to new posts
  • No timestamps
  • No commenting or trackback feature, the site is talking right-at-you rather than with you
  • No “About Milla” page telling who she is, who she represents, what she will write about and how to contact her

The site is everything but authentic. It’s a shame for the whole finnish blogging community, that sites like this exist with the name “blog” written on it. Some companies do it right, some listen to ad-agency drones who don’t know what they are doing. For a better example, see blogger Veloena sponsored by Suomen Kuvalehti. She is doing a great job and probably costs less than this shameful campaign.

I feel sorry for the initiators of this campaign. They obviously didn’t have the best expertise around. In fact, I feel so sorry that I volunteer to lend my copy of “Naked Conversations” (or give a signed copy of the translation “Blogit ja bisnes” with my foreword when it comes out) and provide FREE consultation for them to fix this misdoing with a fraction of the original budget. If you know anyone responsible for this, please ask them to contact me.

Do you have other examples of fake blogs in Finland? Let me know.

How to save businesses

Sunday, March 25th, 2007

Doc Searls wrote about how to save the newspapers. Good points there, including:

Informing is not the same as “delivering information”. Inform is derived from the verb to form. When you inform me, you form me. You enlarge that which makes me most human: what I know. I am, to some degree, authored by you.

What we call “authority” is the right we give others to author us, to enlarge us.

Read the rest of the post and think what it would mean for businesses in general. Is the website of your organization allowing others to author you? Can we be authors of each other or are you hiding behind corpspeak, paywalls and the fear that your own customers will beat you to death with crutongs (blog posts), if you tell the truth?

Why microtransactions are vital for physical+virtual product sellers

Saturday, September 16th, 2006

Online payment systems have been around since 1994, when the first generation micropayment systems appeared. Micropayment can be defined as an electronic transaction consisting of the transfer of a very small sum of money. The first such systems were eCash, MilliCent and CyberCoin and all of them disappeared slowly in the late 1990s. The current generation of micropayment systems appeared around dot-com boom in 1999-2000 to enable e-business.

Good micropayment system behind a business that sells information products can drive the growth of a company to a new trajectory. A good example of this is Apple. In their Q2/2006 financial results they report revenue growth of 34% and earnings increase of 41%. Their latest entrance to the music business (consisting of iTunes music store and iPod music player hardware) accounted for slightly more than half of Apple’s quarterly revenues of $4.36 billion with $2.199 billion — and considerably more than the $1.7 billion from computer sales. In February 2006 Apple announced that the iTunes Music Store had sold 1 billion songs. In march 2006 iTunes customers were buying about 1 million videos a week alone. Apple is not the only one driving a traditional market to a micropayment-based information product business.

Among the other successful players are Amazon (publishing), Skype (telecommunications), eBay (auctions), NetFlix (DVD rental) and Google (advertising) to name a few. The same can be done for every major industry. It’s clear that Apple is not really making profit with music players but to drive growth in their information product-based online music store, where the profit margins are much better in the long term and the system is easily scalable. It’s also evident, that the demand for music players will go down, as no one has really sold 8.5 million music players in a quarter before. When the market gets saturated by low-cost copy-cats manufactured in Asia, Apple will most likely focus on iTunes, where demand for low-cost information-based products will never decline.

They are utilizing their traditional business model and strong position in selling beautiful computer hardware to drive revenue growth in their new business area of information-based products. This is achieved by first making iTunes a consistent part of their hardware offering. First iTunes will drive growth in the physical product business but as the margins drop due to fierce competition, iTunes will take the lead.

It’s likely, this strategy will be implemented by several hybrid actors (hardware + information products) on the market: first drive physical product sales with an added-value online transaction system and when the time is right, use the existing business of physical products to drive sales of user-generated immaterial and digital products where the margins will be much better. Based on this value proposition, selecting the right strategy for online payments based on micropayment systems is critical. In Finland and maybe in the whole world, Sulake Labs has the most advanced micropayment system tailored for around eleven local markets. Physical product sellers could learn a thing or two from one of the leading interactive entertainment providers.