Start the week with a great guide to multimedia journalism

There are increasing numbers of journalists and bloggers utilising every channel in multimedia to convey their stories and information, but whether you’re contemplating starting to embrace digital multimedia, or you’ve engaged in mixing text, audio, video etc for a while, you’re bound to pick up at least a couple of new tools and ideas from Mindy McAdam’s Reporters Guide to Multimedia Profiency.

It’s the single PDF compilation of her 15 excellent blog posts on the subject.

And worth reading if you’re publishing anything online, whether or not you’d define yourself as a journalist or editorial staff.

Former colleague (although we never met in person), Adam Westbrook has also been doing some brilliant guides to using multimedia and video.

And for interesting inspiration, I tend to look at Christian Payne, and spend some spare time trying to persuade friend and former colleague Angus Farquhar to spend more time doing crazy stuff and blogging about it.

Jumping back into the Twitter Stream with Twitter for Dummies

Much like the constant updates of Twitter itself, picking what to write about after a break enforced by work/family is tricky as a huge amount of microblogging and Twitter coverage flows through my RSS feeds on a daily basis – so expect plenty of catching up shortly.

The admirable Laura Fitton (@Pistachio) reminded me this morning that there’s only a week left for open contributions to Twitter for Dummies.

The good thing is that you don’t need to write everything up:

Want to see your tip, idea or case study in Twitter for Dummies? Submit it today and get your friends to vote it up. We can’t include everything, but we’ll mention as many of the best ones as we can.

A line or two is enough, or a link to the full story. You don’t need to write it up completely here.

Vote on ideas by category and add your stuff too. Click the categories in the sidebar to go through them one at a time. Thanks!

–Advanced tips and techniques
–Business and Twitter
–Case Studies – Business
–Case Studies – Personal
–Facts and Factoids
–Favorite Twitter Tools
–Government/Politics and Twitter
–How to Grow Your Network
–Nonprofits and Twitter
–Personal use of Twitter
–Sharing multimedia
–Tips for New Users
–URL Shorteners
–Uses of Twitter
–What NOT to Do

We’ll keep taking ideas for one more week — until Wednesday, April 8, 2009. We can’t guarantee your story will make it into the final edition. We CAN guarantee that the most popular charity submitted and voted up will get 10% of the royalties from book sales.’

So as long as you interact by Wednesday, you’ll get to share some knowledge, possibly be listed in a Dummies guide, and raise some money for charity.

Creative inspiration – interviews with TV writers

It’s easy to like Charlie Brooker for his ability to rip something apart in a suitably scathing way, but sometimes he also betrays himself by giving away insights into how to build something up in the first place.

Which is why I’ve spent a happy 50 minutes watching a Screenwipe episode in which he interviews some brilliant TV writers about how and why they write.

The writers are Russell T Davies (Doctor Who), Graham Linehan (Father Ted, the I.T Crowd), Paul Abbott (Shameless), Tony Jordan (Eastenders, Hustle), Jesse Armstrong and Sam Bain (Peep Show), and Brooker himself wrote Dead Set, which is on Channel 4 at the moment.

Highly recommended for anyone doing anything creative – it’s inspirational, makes writing seem hard but possible, and helps remind everyone that there’s no set rule on how to do it, aside from hard work.

Sadly, the fact it’s on the otherwise brilliant iPlayer means:

  • I can’t embed it.
  • The chuffing thing will be gone in 5 days (or 30 if I download it).
  • The fact I want to watch it again and again in the future means some enterprising person will have to illegally steal it and distribute it.

Edit – Clarification on using Stumbleupon properly

I’ve been thinking about a comment by Ari Herzog on my post ‘Is Digg’s Day Done‘. As part of my discussion, I used the comparison with the ease of use and personal recommendation element of Stumbleupon. Ari raised the valid concern that Stumbleupon is intended for recommending index pages, and Digg is intended for deep diving into articles.

(Clarification from SU in the last 3 paragraphs clarifies index and deep level pages are both fine. The following still sets out good reasons for why the confusion has arisen)

But certainly a lot of users are using Stumbleupon for sharing and recommending individual articles and images. The question is whether this is a bad thing, or whether it benefits Stumbleupon?

A cause for confusion:

Stumbleupon itself has to share some of the blame for this in the terms used for explaining the site. While the submission tool has a ‘submit site’ option, elsewhere ‘site’ and ‘page’ are used interchangeably. For instance, the SU About page.

‘StumbleUpon helps you discover and share great websites. As you click Stumble!, we deliver high-quality pages matched to your personal preferences. These pages have been explicitly recommended by your friends or one of 5,946,251 other websurfers with interests similar to you. Rating these sites you like () automatically shares them with like-minded people – and helps you discover great sites your friends recommend.’

Bearing in mind a website can have thousands of pages, you can understand why there’s a little confusion. Again:

A simple 2-level rating system gives users the opportunity to pass on or give their opinion on any webpage with a single click.’

And certainly the Getting Started page clearly seems to say either choosing websites, or webpages is fine:

When you Stumble! a page or site, first thumb it, then click on to see reviews & comments made by other Stumblers, and to add one of your own

I’ve contacted Stumbleupon for clarification and an official answer, seeing as I can’t find one in About, FAQs, or the Discussion Forum!

Why Stumbling pages makes sense to individual users:

Stumbling individual pages makes more sense in a lot of circumstances than recommending an entire website on the basis of a single encounter with an article or image. If I’ve read some text or seen an image I can make a quality assessment on that piece of work immediately via the toolbar.

But to give an accurate assessment of a website could mean visiting 10, 20, or 50,000 pages or items to be able to get an idea over consistent quality – and that’s not taking into account how random a large site can be when it accepts a wide variety of authors or content submissions. Could you rate the entire Youtube site on the basis on one video? And how much would depend on whether your first encounter was with a rickroll or an mwesch anthropological study?

Why it makes more sense to publishers:

As user recommendation and rating systems become more mainstream and more numerous, publishers either need to offer the world’s longest drop down list – or pick the sites they’d most like to appear on. A site like Yahoo Buzz makes complete sense, as it’s a big gamble with big rewards of hundreds of thousands of visitors to a single article. Stumbleupon makes sense because it tends to drive a significant amount of traffic over longer periods, and with lower bounce rates, than many other sites (such as Digg), but the results are still somewhat transient. The only way to increase the amount of regular readers from such a site is to frequently have good quality content placed in front of them – which only happens when numerous pages are being submitted and highly rated.

And without the ability to raise the profile of a site with numerous pages submitted in this way, Stumblers (and users of other ranking systems) would be far more limited in sources, and only the established large scale sites would get publicity and traffic boosts of enough to make a difference.

My opinion is that Stumbleupon accepts and promotes both page and website submissions, and that’s the correct usage of the site.

Official clarification in a quick time:

And in an incredibly quick time, a message to Mr-SU got a prompt and comprehensive response:

Submitting an index page or a specific page that’s levels deep in a site are both appropriate uses of StumbleUpon. We want our members to submit the best-quality pages they discover so they can be shared with others.

So there’s some clarity. You can submit an index page, or a deep page to Stumbleupon. Therefore Stumbleupon conclusively is the best social website recommendation service as far as I can see!