Content Ninja's Weblog

An exploratory journey on the edge of newspaper evolution

Connecting flight May 9, 2008

Filed under: content,innovation — contentninja @ 2:17 pm
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last step is funnyImage from Flickr

Today I had lunch with Erik Madsen, a Cedar Rapids man who has innovative ideas percolating in his head, likes biking and photography, and whose kids are into the fine arts. Check out one of his side projects, True Grin (think lolcats, but without hair balls).

We talked about community building, content and context, business models and scaling mountains. We talked about what an online community might be like. Erik, like many of the folks in the focus groups, would like a customizable interface that tailors information to his interests but allows him to search for more. He’d like such a place to help him locate likeminded people and create groups around the topics of interest they share (like Saturday morning biking breakfast clubs). He wants to share photos and video, if doing so can be simple.

We talked about profiles and whether he’d be comfortable filling out one for such a community. Some folks in the focus groups said they didn’t want profiles being used to target advertising at them; it creeped them out. Advertising is content, too, though. Erik suggested that folks also be allowed to customize what advertising came their way. That’s interesting.

We also talked about recruiting and connections, how to find the people who are most likely to engage in such a space.

Take show choirs, for example. Seven years as features editor taught me that school staff/administration is not always the best source of timely, street-level information. Parents often are, but once a parent’s child has graduated and the parent moves on, the community will need another contributor of that info. A school’s show choir director, however, knows who those parents are and could be a great source of ongoing introductions.

So the community may be all about street-level interaction, but a cadre of community catalysts — maybe public figures, experts or staff — can be invaluable for recruiting and maintaining the community.

I love vetting these concepts with real people who aren’t all geeky over the tools, the way I am, and it’s gratifying to hear Erik and others say, “What an interesting time in your industry.” Yes, isn’t it?

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4 Responses to “Connecting flight”

  1. Matthew M Says:

    How about a social application that scrapes a person’s profile on multiple communities and develops a profile for that person based on collected data?

    I see it as a drag and drop interface where you drag your Facebook, Myspace and twitter url’s into a window and you are prompted for logins to each (still in the same window). Then the software plays a video while you wait a minute for it to contextually mine all the data from each social app and build an Uber-Profile.

    the end result is totally customizable but chances are, based on your accuracy in the existing profiles, the new profile will be spot on.

    I will start working on this immediately. Should only take 3 years by myself.

  2. contentninja Says:

    That last statement made me laugh out loud, Matthew.

    The Web’s been lit up recently with reports that MySpace is making progress on the Data Portability Project, right? See

    So steps are being taken that move us closer to this. And like you said elsewhere, perhaps we won’t have to imitate or create. Wouldn’t it be nice if the folks behind Facebook’s Web Presence app could take it a step further and create the app you envision here?

  3. Mark Says:

    Dear Annette,
    My name is Mark, I run a show choir website called Show Choir Iowa, if you ever need a source for anything related and can’t find one, I can either find what you need or know someone who can.


  4. contentninja Says:

    Thanks, Mark. Good to hear from you! Are you local to Eastern Iowa?

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