Content Ninja's Weblog

An exploratory journey on the edge of newspaper evolution

Facebook is the new Peyton Place September 8, 2008

Filed under: social media — contentninja @ 5:01 pm
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Iowa state welcome signImage via Wikipedia

I hated growing up in small-town northwest Iowa. I could not wait to get out of that redneck, go-nowhere town and into the big, wide world where no one knew your business or even cared. I got out, but ironically, I’m now living in an even smaller town.

Clive Thompson, writing for NYT Magazine online Friday on the proliferation of “ambient awareness” and weak ties to many people, makes an interesting point. He’s talking predominantly about Facebook and Twitter and how they arrange the minutiae of our lives into revealing portraits of ourselves.

He notes: “This is the ultimate effect of the new awareness: It brings back the dynamics of small-town life, where everybody knows your business.”

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In my tribe April 30, 2008

Filed under: innovation,journalism,social media — contentninja @ 2:50 pm
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Content Ninja is back from last week’s reconnaissance missions, and I must say, context gathering is a beautiful thing. But I digress. Some cool things I’ve come across, now that I’m caught up with feeds, e-mail, voice-mail and meetings.

Paul Bradshaw has a terrific post at Online Journalism Blog on the myriad ways “Journalists Can Master Twitter.” The post is worth reading just for his list of recommended Twitter tools that can stock your contacts list. I especially like Gridjit.

J.Deragon defines a new term — socialutions — in his post “What is Socialutions?” at Social Media Today. He defines it this way:

“(P)eople, communities and organizations leveraging technology to interact with people for the purpose of solving problems. The act of working together with others to create new solutions to old paradigms of communications and interaction without boundaries and with limitless reach.”

He further suggests that old paradigms must be completely abandoned.

“For the old to adapt and flourish in the new paradigm they must understand the dynamics, the tools and the methods of Socialutions. Otherwise any attempts to leverage the new paradigm by forcing it to fit into old methods will create social rejections and the old problems will remain however the results will be worse than previously experienced.”

And lastly, Francois Gossieaux shares a slide presentation at Emergence Marketing in his post “2008 Tribalization of Business Study-Preliminary Results.” Which is an incredibly academic title for a really accessible slide show on community building and what works. (To see slides, click “view” next to Slideshare icon below.)

Although the presentation was written from a marketing perspective, it has value for us, too. I found slides No. 16 (“Community features contributing the most to effectiveness”) and No. 17 (“The biggest obstacles to making communities work”) to be most relevant.

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Face the music March 26, 2008

I’m not just blogging as part of this experiment. I’m venturing into the social media wilderness in other ways, too.

Yesterday I joined Facebook. (Dun-dun-da!) You know what? It’s fun.

I quickly found a former co-worker from my college paper, The Daily Iowan, and we engaged in a game of comedic one-up-manship. I’d forgotten how good Jake is at one-liners. I laughed out loud at my desk like a complete ninnyhammer. 

I even did my part to populate Facebook with more grown-ups, sending invites to family and friends. A few have taken me up on the invite, a few more are promising to but haven’t yet. (You listening, girlies?)

I also discovered that, wow, Facebook can suck up time.

And there, folks, is the most valuable lesson learned, but perhaps not in the way you think. To wit: Facebook is fun, so it doesn’t feel like it’s eating up a lot of time. A healthy online community is not just a comfortable place to be (see previous post “Ciao, bella”), it’s a fun place to be. And that’s what drives people to spend more than 2 seconds there.

I know, I know. My “Eureka!” is someone else’s “Duh!”

I’ve also registered at Twitter, another place to be seen, but I confess I have not made time to explore its full capabilities. Have advice for me? Drop me a line. 



We got the beat March 15, 2008

And a third experiment: ( Here, 13 beat reporters, from 13 news organizations, are adding social media — from blogs to Facebook pages to Twitter ( — to their repertoire of reporting tools to maximize coverage of their diverse beats. For the best look at how it’s going, read the analysis section: 

This is the most academic experiment in the bunch I’m studying. It’s actually one of many experiments by ( The latter was started by Jay Rosen, an associate professor at New York University’s J-school and author of the PressThink blog (

Speaking of things to watch, Rosen’s blog is worth adding to your favorite feeds.