Posts Tagged ‘Blogging’

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Give me some sugar, WordPress

December 10, 2009

My taste for WordPress.com is starting to sour. It’s this issue of not being able to embed javascript. It is making it so I can’t use WordPress.com for certain increasingly important purposes.

WordPress says they don’t allow javascript because “Javascript can be used for malicious purposes. Your code and intentions may be perfectly harmless, but it does not mean all javascript will be okay. The security of all the blogs is a top priority and until we can guarantee scripting languages will not be harmful they will not be permitted”.

That makes sense. Except, there’s one problem with that. More and more of what makes Web 2.0 and social media great requires javascript. Because of WordPress’s position, I can’t run a liveblog an event using CoveritLive and Twitter, which is by far the most powerful way to liveblog an event that I am aware of. CoveritLive made this liveblogging event and this liveblogging event possible. What I especially like about CoveritLive is that it makes it possible to feed in contact from other users, turning a blog into a much more social tool than it tends to be. Nope. Can’t do that. Read the rest of this entry ?

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Time to Put LiveJournal Out of Its Misery (A Note to International Media Trainers)

September 5, 2009

638335723_b785e0009b_oNormally, I focus more on promoting things done well rather than rail against things done poorly. But, I gotta say, there’s room for exception in some cases. Enter:  LiveJournal. I’m sorry, but I kinda think the world would be a better place without LiveJournal, given the available alternatives.

Sure, it would leave a huge number of people who use it to blog, express themselves, connect with others, create networks, social network, and whatever else they do, out in the cold. Particularly in eastern Europe, in places like Russia and Ukraine, where LiveJournal has a commanding lead in the blogging platform market. But, while my party line tends to be “try NOT to make things any harder in developing and transitioning countries, because they are hard enough already”, with LiveJournal I have to take a longview, pragmatic, and perhaps short-run heartless stance and say, “Cut the cord. You’ll thank me for it”.

Because, to everyone still on LiveJournal, I have to say:  in the end, all this platform’s doing is holding you back. It really is subtraction by addition. And besides, there are so many other options that are much, MUCH better.

Okay, here are my bones to pick with LiveJournal (and trust me, running through this is going to hurt me more than it is going to hurt you, LiveJournal devotees): Read the rest of this entry ?

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MediaNext: Web 2.0 and Blogging – Training Links I Used in Ukraine

August 1, 2009

Here are the links I used during my MediaNext training seminars on Web 2.0 and Blogging for Ukrainian journalists and NGOs in June and July. You will find examples of how these tools are being used by journalists and NGOs (case studies, if you will), links to articles with statistics and trends in these tools, and other misc. links backing up with at I was training. You will also find at the bottom a section of “helpful links” and one on “blog tips”. I was working with co-trainers, so these aren’t all of the links we used in our seminars. But, this gives you a good base.

Three other things to note:

  1. Languages – You will see that some of this is occasionally in Ukrainian or Russian. In those instances, I tried to provide an English translation to make it easier to read for non-speakers. In some cases, I have used Google Translate to translate into Ukrainian. Be careful with these, because occasionally the translations are a bit funny. However, they are close enough to be informative. Also, ideally I would have a Russian version, Ukrainian version, AND an English version. But, time is finite.
  2. Formatting Issues – The formatting is a little wonky. I have these links stored in a Google Doc, and transferring them over resulted in HTML coding craziness. Please bear with me on that issue.
  3. Downloadable Version – I have also created a downloadable PDF version that might be a useful alternative for you. Please let me know if you have troubles with this, and I could post a different version.

I hope these links below will prove useful for you. I tried to stay current, using links and info only from 2008 and on. I’d love to hear any thoughts, questions, or feedback on any of this. Enjoy! Read the rest of this entry ?

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MediaNext: Heading Back to Ukraine

July 9, 2009

Kharkov_Freedom_SquareWell, looks like I’m on the Ukraine commute, as my friend, The Goat, pointed out. I’m heading back to Ukraine today to do another set of New Media trainings with Internews-Ukraine. For the most part, these will be the same trainings. Just some tweaks here and there. The big difference is we are hitting new cities. The first will be in Kyiv, like before, but will draw in some journalists and NGOs from Vinnytsya. Then, we head to Odesa for two days on the beach, um, I mean, trainings. Finally, to Kharkiv.

I can’t decide which I am more excited about. Odesa or Kharkiv. I’ve been to Odesa before. But it’s Odesa. On the Black Sea. And this time, it will be July, instead of March. Or April. Or whenever I was there with my wife in 2006. Should be a lot more fantastic. Though, Odesa’s a pretty cool city, regardless. So it wasn’t like it was terrible before. Even when it is cold, hey, you are still at the beach, right? Read the rest of this entry ?

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MediaNext: Training Online Social Networking in Ukraine, Americanskiy Style

June 27, 2009

This is how social networking is really done.

Teaching social networking in Ukraine is a fascinating experiment in “how can an American, with a rather different concept of social networking from Ukrainians, explain this concept and the tools to be used with it in a useful way for these trainees, and not offend anyone in the process?” 

The main tools for our social-networking session were Vkontakte and Facebook (not excluding all the other tools that qualify as “social networking”, like LiveJournal, YouTube, Podfm.ru, all things Yandex. However, before we got into the tools, it was important to explain social networking. After all, the tools aren’t the end, they are the means to the end. 

So what was the end in the case of this session? First, to help them understand the basic principles of social networking, and connect them to these tools. Second, to help people understand how social networking will help them as journalists, media activists, and NGO strategists. Third, to confuse people, and offend them, as little as possible with my “American” perspective of America, and more importantly, Ukraine. Read the rest of this entry ?

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MediaNext: Some Resources from Our Training in Kyiv

June 19, 2009

Here are some resources we used for our training in Kyiv. I’ll blog about it in more detail later, but figured this would be cool to share.

Maxon’s training on LiveJournal and Blogging


Twitter in Plain English


Social Networking in Plain Ukrainian

This is a massive list of links that I am using for this training – examples, facts, tips, downloads, etc.

Any feedback or links you’d like to provide will always be welcomed here. I will try to publish more training materials later.

Author’s Note:  This is part of a series of posts on my experiences doing New Media trainings with Internews-Ukraine in June 2009, as part of their MediaNext initiative, in partnership with European Journalism Centre. These views are my own, and do not reflect those of Internews-Ukraine or European Journalism Centre. Just so we’re clear on that.

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MediaNext: The Internet is Not Your Friend

June 17, 2009

IMG_4184Sometimes, the Internet can be your worst enemy. Well, I should say, your Internet connection. But I won’t, because really the enemy is the Internet.

Everything was fine with our Internet connection in Kyiv. Of course, you’d kind of expect that, because it’s the capital, and Internet connections tend to be better in capitals, right? Two days, the Internet connection was the least of our problems (not that we had a lot of problems).

Then, we got to Lviv, and our Internet connection at the training dropped a bomb on us. It planted itself in the foundation of our sessions, and exploded into a burst of shrapnel that ripped through our structure, shredding flesh and concrete and electrical wiring and everything else in its path.

Let me tell something that I am now a expert of:  It is QUITE a challenge to train people how to use Internet tools when your connection won’t allow you to load Webpages. Trust me on this. It might take a while to fully comprehend. Especially for those who have been using broadband so long that they’ve forgotten what dial-up was like, and just how creative you have to be to make the best use of your time to avoid losing half your day to page loads.

Needless to say, a lot of other adjustments in our training were needed.

YouTube videos were suddenly difficult to show, since they require so much bandwidth to watch. I had been planning on providing links to people so they too could click on the various videos I was showing, should they so desire. But, during the disaster that was quickly becoming our attempt at having everyone load Webpages, I backed off on this idea of providing a whole mess of high bandwidth links.

My blogging strategy session wasn’t so bad, because I was mostly talking and loading pages. And I could kill a lot of download time talking stats and how to think about blogs. Good think I had this information on my hard drive, and didn’t need to keep loading pages just to get this info.

Twitter wasn’t so bad either (compared to what was to come), because we weren’t showing a lot on Twitter. Mostly just how to send messages, how to find and follow people, some examples of news organizations using Twitter, and a lot about how I approach Twitter for research and how journalists can benefit from this.

What was really challenging was when we had people actually working on these tools. For a number of sites, people had to register (I had recommended that we require people to register before the training, but only got my colleagues as far as telling the trainees to register for Twitter, because of it’s issues with many people trying to register at once from the same IP address, woo HAH). So, this made YouTube fun, especially when I walked them through how to create a playlist and their own channel. It easily doubled how long these activities took, given that we had to spend a lot of time enjoying the lovely green or blue of the load progress bar. And, some people’s connections were loading much faster than others, so some people got to sit and wait for others to catch up. How do you accommodate both? There’s only so much content I can tell them. This was a training to show them how to do something.

Yeah, we could just show them on our main computer, projected onto the screen, and told them not to do anything on the Internet, letting them just sit and watch. (Works GREAT!!! when you give people an Internet connection during a training and expect them not to wander). The rub here is that our feedback from the Kyiv training was consistently:  “More practice!”

The beautiful irony here-like so many that life loves to gift us no matter how much we try to prepare for everything that can go wrong, Murphy-is that we tweaked our sessions to give the trainees in Lviv a lot more chance to practice the sites we were showing. Man, I was so ready to blow their minds with practice (and of course fully expected to hear “More theory and cases!” on our feedback forms).

Then came my “Facebook and Social Networking” session. I’m not going to relive the gore and the devastation for you. Sorry. But, I will say this. As you should expect, I most certainly began my session with, “Hey, everybody, let’s REGISTER!”. Yeah, that lopped off pounds of flesh. This was an experiment in how people can somehow manage to click the links I wasn’t asking them to click, and going off in completely wrong directions. I’d ask if everyone was okay, and a few didn’t seem to want to admit that they were very much on the wrong page and couldn’t find their way back. Or, a few had to go to their email and confirm their accounts, and though it was written in Ukrainian, there was some kind of mental disconnect preventing them from taking this action. Then, I had the great idea to show them how to create an RSS feed into their profile from their LiveJournal blogs. More flesh pounds. I never even got to how to feed Twitter to Facebook. There were a lot of blank screens and progress bars. And I had all these great examples of how various journalists and news organizations were using Facebook, a plan to show them how to create a group and a page, show them Causes, and perhaps even have a little fun with the search function-those ideas were leveled by the aftershock of the Internet connection. I think all I really did was confuse the begeebers out of them.

After the session, I asked Maxon, “How do you say ‘disaster’ in Ukrainian?” He said, “катастрофа”.

At least I was able to show them how to convert Facebook into Ukrainian in the beginning. I can only imagine what kind of disaster this would have been in English. (Actually, I would have stuck with Vkontakte).

So, you might ask, “Why are you saying that the Internet can be your worst enemy, and not your Internet connection?”

This is simple. The Internet promises us so much. Web 2.0 came along and made everything so easy, so quick. Every day, more and more people are doing more and more on the Internet. Because it is so easy, so quick. But, there is another side to this. A dark side, with snarling dogs, crying babies, and little devils that hate us and constantly look for ways to inflict trouble and harm. The Internet calms us into thinking that nothing can go wrong, that it will all be so simple. Just point. And click. And boom. A Webpage appears. Just like that. Except when you find yourself in the presence of a bad Internet connection. And you find yourself at a two-day training, telling everyone, “Oh, it’s so SIMPLE! This will CHANGE YOUR LIFE! All you have to do is… um… wait… and… well… on this page, once it finally loads, you will see… well… maybe we should just wait… it will be easier to explain when you see it… ah, technology…”

Thank you, Internet. You charmed me with your blissful offers of hope and promise. You lulled me to sleep in your arms. And finally, you ripped off your mask and revealed your other face. Friends don’t deceive each other like this.

Man, here’s hoping the Internet is our friend in Donetsk.

If anyone out there has any recommendations for how to approach a training situation like this, or would like to share their experiences, please do.

Author’s Note:  This is part of a series of posts on my experiences doing New Media trainings with Internews-Ukraine in June 2009, as part of their MediaNext initiative, in partnership with European Journalism Centre. These views are my own, and do not reflect those of Internews-Ukraine or European Journalism Centre. Just so we’re clear on that.

Photo: Me and Coffee McGee in front of what I understand to be a Ukrainian nationalist flag. Courtesy of MediaNext.