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Panpa Bulletin : April 2006
april 2006 PaNPa bUlletiN | 29 techNoloGY MatterS StePhen QuInn last month, Stephen Quinn discussed blogging. this month, he not only gives information about where to fnd out about blogs, but also looks at other methods of sharing information electronically. it is difficult to get an accu- rate estimate, but it appears Australia had about 450,000 blogs as of early 2006. The updat- ing frequency varied considerably. If research from the United States is anything to go by, about 60 per cent of bloggers only post a few times before giving up. But they are important as a po- tential news source. Graeme Sam- uel, chairman of the ACCC, said blogs were becoming the informa- tion source of choice for 18-34 year olds. He predicted the trend would accelerate as broadband became more widely available. "With the capacity for anyone with a com- puter to set up their own blog and start providing news content, the business models of existing media players will have to respond," he said. Moblogs The word "moblog" is an amal- gam of mobile phone and blog. These blogs are designed to work with mobile phones. People post content to a web site by sending a multi-media message or email from their phone to a website linked to the blog. The email's subject line be- comes the headline for the post- ing, and the message text the body of the story. Software nestles the attached photograph into the posting as a thumbnail image, it- self linked to a full-size image. During the 2004 US presidential election, pairs of student journal- ists covered the Democratic and Republican national conven- tions, in Boston in July 2004 and New York in August 2004 respec- tively, equipped only with mobile phones. It was part of a Newsplex project to demonstrate the power of cam- era-equipped telephones as news- gathering tools. The Newsplex is an experimental newsroom at the University of South Carolina at Co- lumbia. The author is the only aca- demic on the Newsplex's advisory Counsel (see www.newsplex.org). A company called TextAmerica makes money hosting moblogs. People pay a monthly fee for the company to host their moblog. See http://digitaltrend.textamer- ica.com. Richard Joergensen is managing editor of NordJyske, a daily paper in northern Denmark. An ex- ample his moblog is here: http:// www.riclife.blogspot.com/ Podcasting A podcast is a do-it-yourself form of sound broadcasting that became popular about the mid- dle of 2004. The term comes from Apple Computer's iPod, a portable digital music player. Listenersdownloadpodcastfiles onto their music players. Podcast- ing represents another example of personal media, where individuals choose what they hear rather than relying on radio stations. Convenience is key. Listen- ers can automate the download process, using special software, so new items are available on their computers as they are published. Dozens of US newspapers and magazines embraced podcast- ing in 2005. Some summarise the day's news; others provide radio- style programs complete with interviews of reporters and news- makers. Vblogs These are video-based blogs distributed via the Internet; hence the term vblog. One of the most popular is Rocketboom (http:// www.rocketboom.com). It claims more daily subscribers for original, syndicated multi-media content than nearly any other site, includ- ing podcasts. Rocketboom is a three-minute daily video blog produced mostly in New York City. It covers a wide range of information and com- mentary from news stories to quirky culture stories on the Internet. Via RSS (remember: re- ally simple syndication) viewers automatically receive the latest bulletin once it becomes available. Rocketboom's web site said: "We differ from a regularTV program in many important ways. Instead of costing millions of dollars to pro- duce, Rocketboom is created with a consumer-level video camera, a laptop, two lights and a map with no additional overhead or costs." Because of the availability of broadband, Rocketboom is dis- tributed online around the world on demand, "and thus has a much larger potential audience than any TV broadcast". Distribution costs are almost nil, apart from the company's servers and infrastructure. Rocketboom spends nothing on promotion, re- lying entirely on word-of-mouth. The site receives plenty of feed- back from its audience. People interested in this new publishing form should read the editors' weblog from the editors' group of the World Association of Newspapers at http://www.edi- torsweblog.org. It contains much discussion on whether bloggers are journalists. Stephen Quinn is the associate professor of journalism, Deakin University Blogs, moblogs and the like to fnd out more about blogs, here is a list of some of the (many) blog indexes, ranked in no particular order: http://www.blogwise.com lists blogs by country http://www.bloghub.com offers the 50 hottest blogs http://www.blogdex.net, a research project of the MIT Media Laboratory, tracks the spread of information through the blog community http://getblogs.com is a directory of more than 11,000 blogs http://blogsearchengine.com as the name suggests, is a search tool for locating blogs http://www.whitepage.com.au is a free blog site for Australians http://www.blogger.com is another place to start your own blog