FT Planning Off-Shoot Digital Finance News Site

FT Planning Off-Shoot Digital Finance News Site:

Something’s brewing at fttilt.com. Over the weekend, Pearson (NYSE: PSO) folk tweeted the URL to invite applications for what will be a new offshoot of the main FT.com site.

According to the site:-

‘FT Tilt is a new online service from the Financial Times, launching later this year.

‘It is led by the same team that developed FT Alphaville, the multi-award winning financial blog, and promises a similar blend of lively news and analysis for a specialist audience of finance professionals.

‘This is a start-up venture under the FT’s umbrella. As such it offers frontline experience in developing a new digital media service from scratch.’

Invent Apps on Android

Yahoo Pipes didn’t change the world, this won’t either, but it’s compelling:

App Inventor for Android:

You can build just about any app you can imagine with App Inventor. Often people begin by building games like WhackAMole or games that let you draw funny pictures on your friend’s faces. You can even make use of the phone’s sensors to move a ball through a maze based on tilting the phone.

But app building is not limited to simple games. You can also build apps that inform and educate. You can create a quiz app to help you and your classmates study for a test. With Android’s text-to-speech capabilities, you can even have the phone ask the questions aloud.

To use App Inventor, you do not need to be a developer. App Inventor requires NO programming knowledge. This is because instead of writing code, you visually design the way the app looks and use blocks to specify the app’s behavior.

Details on Associated Content and Yahoo

How Associated Content Helps Yahoo Go Local:

But first, here’s how it works now. Associated Content’s writers create self-selected and assignment-based content. Most of what is produced is evergreen content, but there are also personal essays, product reviews, and the like. While some content is paid at scale or ‘upfront,’ Keane explained that various types of content are often valued individually, according to the form (text, video, etc.) and potential earnings.

Since monetization happens over the lifetime of an article, and articles are considered annuities for both Associated Content and the producers, potential earnings are determined by a number of factors, including Web search results and Ad Sense metrics.

…..

Prior to the sale, I had asked Keane about the potential for Associated Content to create local news. ‘Using the virtual assignment desk, we can activate any audience in any ZIP code,’ he responded. ‘So, then, we could potentially have someone follow the story of a plane crash. We can activate people in any community to create news stories if we’d like to do that. But that’s not our focus.’

(Via E-Media Tidbits.)

Workflow is important: Lewis proves it

Confirmed: News Int. Picks Lewis To Integrate Workflow:

The new role of general manager re-unites Will Lewis with former Telegraph Media Group chief technology officer Paul Cheesbrough, who is joining News Int. in the same role.

Though Lewis is being given management oversight to ‘coordinate editorial spending’ across all four of News Corp’s UK news titles generally, the post also makes him one of their most senior executives for digital technology strategy (though no one person leads ‘digital’ in its entirety nowadays)…

In group-wide digital, News International is now tasking Lewis with ‘implementing a next generation of editorial technology that will support the production of content across a range of digital distribution platforms’. Sounds like code for some degree of newsroom ‘integration’…

So wait for Lewis and Cheesbrough to announce which platforms they will use to accomplish this and how many, if any, jobs will go as a result…

(Via paidContent:UK.)

AOL’s open source maps in UK

AOL Launches Open-Source Maps Projects In U.S., UK:

Patch Maps

Hoping to mount a challenge to Google (NSDQ: GOOG) Map’s dominance, AOL’s MapQuest is embracing open-source mapping on a global scale, starting in Europe. It’s launching in beta here built on OpenStreetMap data for the UK. The beta platform will be a stand-alone offering and will live alongside MapQuest’s existing UK platform, which is based on commercially available map data. Additionally, AOL (NYSE: AOL) is creating a $1 million fund to support the growth of open-source mapping in the United States.

(Via paidContent:UK.)

Open spending data is…closed

God, I love countculture. I love everything about him. And I love, love, love what he’s doing to ensure government and local government spending is made available transparently, openly and freely. Take this post on the devilish deal done by council with something called Spikes Cavell for the publication of spending data:

Note the “This data is for your personal use only”  not to mention the fact that the use of a captcha’ to screen out machines downloading the data means, er, you can’t use machines to automatically download the data, which is sort of the point of publishing the data in a machine-readable way.

Never mind, surely you can just head over to the council’s website and download the data from there? No chance.

via The open spending data that isn’t… this is not good « countculture.

Conde Nast appoints director for digital magazine development

Wired Creative Director Scott Dadich’s role is expanding to corporate Conde Nast following the initial success of the magazine’s iPad app. As Executive Director, Digital Magazine Development, he’ll work at the corporate level to develop simultaneous print/digital publishing systems for the various magazine brands based on the Adobe (NSDQ: ADBE) partnership and Wired model.

The publisher has been experimenting with various approaches to digital magazines. This would appear to be a vote of confidence in the Wired model, which integrates digital development with the magazine staff’s print role. The first iPad edition sold more than 96,000 downloads at $4.99; the July issue hit the App Store Wednesday.

via Updated: Wired’s Dadich Adds Corporate Digital Mag Role | paidContent.

I find it pretty interesting that several firms are setting up “digital magazine development” units separately from their web teams. The Economist has done the same. I initially thought this was bizarre, but having spoken to some of the people involved I’m beginning to think it makes sense. It also poses the always-relevant question for magazines: what is the Website for?

Introducing The South London Post

Here’s a question: what’s the most appropriate geographical unit for a media title? Currently, “hyperlocal” is all the rage, which I take to mean a website about a pretty small area, probably one you can walk across and recognise most of the things in: a block in New York, the remnants of a village in London, a provincial town. There are many of these breaking out all over Britain (and you can track them, too, thanks to the continuing excellent efforts of OpenlyLocal).

What’s the next level up from “hyperlocal”? Ah, now there’s a question. Because the answer is: it depends. People’s sense of “where they are” varies by, well, where they are. So someone living in a village in Warwickshire may have little interest in anything beyond the borders of the village, while someone living in Cambridge may well be interested in the surrounding villages. It’s very much horses for courses.

Which brings us to London, and its deeply peculiar media scene. London is served by several free newspapers which aren’t really “local” in any meaningful way; they’re local manifestations of national or international brands. It’s served by BBC London which, I’m sorry, is rather a joke (we play a game in my house called “count the London stories on the BBC London News which haven’t already been on the national news”. Catchy title, no?). There is some local radio, most notably LBC, which provides some local coverage (although I’ve just looked at their home page, and there is not a single London story on there). And there is a patchwork of local newspapers, some free some not, which are mostly cut from the same “man dies in flat” template for local press.

In South London, where I live, we have  a bunch of local Guardian brands (the Streatham Guardian, for instance), and we have the Tindle-owned South London Press. Now the SLP is a rather extraordinary thing. It seems to have a terror-wracked view of the universe in which “normal people” quake behind their doors while the streets are roamed by young thugs with vicious dogs and dead eyes. Frankly if you read the South London Press, you’d be asking yourself why anyone would ever want to live in South London. I sometimes think its target market is the low-income, unemployed single mother who dreams of an escape to Kent or Essex and reads the SLP as a way of confirming her misery.

Anyway. All this is a long-winded introduction to the latest of the a long-line of online publishing experiments, the South London Post. It’s a blog about South London. More specifically, it’s a blog which curates the best blogs and news sources covering Lambeth, Southwark and Lewisham. It’s been running for a few weeks, and I’m going to be blogging here about its progress.

First, why? Well, the reasons given above. There is no news title about South London which assumes that: a, this is a pleasant place to live; and b, the people living in it might be somewhat engaged in and interested by what makes it tick. Also, there are several very good hyperlocal blogs in South London, but there was nothing that I could find that drew them together – that told me, for instance, about stuff going on in Brockley that I might find interesting even if I don’t live in Brockley. And there was very little coverage of council matters outside the South London Press, which just assumes that all councillors are lying bastards who are lying to them.

Secondly, why Lambeth, Southwark and Lewisham? Well, it’s pretty arbitary, and it goes back to my opening point about “where is there?”. Contentious viewpoint: south-west London is its own thing. They do things differently there. Contentious viewpoint two: as you get out to Greenwich and beyond, the texture of living morphs into Kent, and again it feels quite different. Or, to put it another way: I’ve lived in South London for 20 years, and I know Lambeth, Southwark and Lewisham pretty well. There must be a reason (psychogeographical?) for that.

Thirdly, why curated? Well, this was a bit of a journey. I started off experimenting with mechanical aggregators (see my post here) such as this, this and this. These things have their place, but they’re very bad at maintaining narratives (which I think is essential) and there’s a terrible signal-to-noise ratio.

Then I experimented with pulling in feeds into a WordPress installation using a plugin called Feedwordpress. This was more successful: it allowed me to file posts from other blogs in a more fine-grained way, and allowed me to “curate by tagging”, creating narratives by grouping similar posts together.

But it also felt not-quite-right, for two reasons. 1, there was no reliable editorial tone-of-voice, and I began to realise that tone-of-voice, however ephemeral, is one of the key things that binds a media property together. And 2,it felt unethical. It felt like stealing to mechanically suck in someone else’s work and then display it back in a new container. It just didn’t sit right.

So finally, I hit on this model: a blog which I post to manually, using WordPress hosted at Mythic Beasts. The tools of my trade (currently) are Twitter and Google Reader – there’s more about this on the site itself here. I try to link generously and quote reasonably. And, so far, I’ve not had any complaints from local bloggers who feature; indeed, some have been notably effusive.

The site launched in June, and the first month’s traffic looks like this:

So, no setting-world-on-fire going on here. I’ve got a very rough target in my mind of getting to a million monthly page views, which means I’m a thousandth of the way there. Nothing like simple metrics to keep you focussed.

I post about five times a day, and it probably takes between 30 minutes and an hour of my time. One thing I have noticed: the most unexpected things can get you traffic. About a tenth of June’s traffic was to a post about a Portuguese fair in Kennington Park. And look, by linking to it I’ve just skewed it even further.

There are currently about two page views per visit, which is probably more of a function of the IA than anything else – only excerpts are appearing on the front page. One thing I’m pleased about: about 30% of the visits were “not new”, meaning people had come back. Which is nice.

Oh, and I made – wait for it, wait for it – one American cent in AdSense revenue in June. So, if you fancy investing, Fred Wilson….

I’m going to post here every month about progress, and I’m going to try and do one concrete thing a month to drive traffic to see if I can gauge its progress. July is Twitter month – I’m going to tweet every new post to see what that does to traffic. The blog’s twitter account is @southlondonpost; if you live in South London, you might be interested in following it.

And I’m also pondering the design again. I agonised over the template for weeks – it’s a Woothemes template called Headlines, and I do like it, but it does slightly bork the formatting in homepage excerpts. I’ve just downloaded (and paid for) another Woothemes thing called Weekly, which I’m looking at and pondering.

So, anyway, as Russell would say. Onwards and upwards.