The Philly Post: City departments that need a Web overhaul

As part of a push for a broader readership, back in March Technically Philly announced a content partnership with Philadelphia magazine and its new daily blog.

Fellow co-founder Brian James Kirk has been writing most of the weekly posts, as he’s still freelancing. But last week, I filled in, penning a short feature on five City of Philadelphia departments that could use a touch of Web openness.

The use of technology to transform government has been a growing municipal interest in city halls across the country.

Here, the City of Philadelphia has announced intentions to release a service-orientated 311 iPhone application, it’s applying for ultra high-speed broadband from Google and it’s in hot pursuit of a funded team of developers and technologists which may someday make our every government transparency dreams come true.

The overtures are there, even if the substance hasn’t yet hit the pavement.

Read the rest here.

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BarCamp NewsInnovation 2.0: My take aways and experience

I speak during Technically Philly's afternoon session at BarCamp NewsInnovation 2.0 at Temple University on April 24, 2010, organization of which was led by Sean Blanda, at left.

They weren’t from around here, were they, shouted my neighbor across the street over the weekend.

She was talking about a pack of young journalists — from Florida and Washington state and California — who had invaded my Fishtown rowhome the weekend before.

That was perhaps one of the largest take aways I drew from attending and, by way of Technically Philly, co-sponsoring BarCamp NewsInnovation 2.0 April 24 — the staggering drawing power of the event in just its second year.

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Four Cs of developing communities on the Web

Photo from Flickr user Leo Reynolds

I’ve been asked a dozen times in the past few weeks what it takes to develop communities on the Web. There isn’t any scientific response, but I’ve started thinking about four Cs that come to mind.

  1. Connection — Whether it’s a geographic or topical vertical, or one strictly based around a product, organization or experience, there has to be an identifiable reason for people to come together around a single site or platform.
  2. Consistency — If it’s going to be once a week, or once a day or five times a day, you need to remain consistent in connecting with your community
  3. Communication — Dialogue is sticky. Active communication online around your audience keeps people around and coming back.
  4. Compelling content – What is going to bring that community back to that blog, or social media account or forum or mobile application? It needs to be content in one of its many forms and it has to be related and compelling to your audience.

What am I missing?

Photo from Flickr user Leo Reynolds.

Number of Views:4226

Philadelphia newspaper auction aftershocks, including Hitler

There are new owners at 400 North Broad Street, the historic home of the Philadelphia Inquirer and Daily News, which publish online with stand-alone sister organization The movement begins immediately and will likely result in a closing by the end of June.

Go here for the financial details of the auction of parent company Philadelphia Media Holdings, which was taken over by debt-holding lenders, not the existing local ownership led by Publisher Brian Tierney.

Such large daily newspapers going on the chopping block at a time of continued media fracturing makes for national news, meaning intellectual conversations have ranged from how Philadelphia now compares to other big cities like Minneapolis and why the conversation around this city is so prevalent in media circles.

It’s also meant that the Hitler film parody meme that had a swift death this very month, has been brought back in — I believe — wonderful, insider hilarity. (Aside from the missing ‘been’ on the first subtitle.)

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Summer 2010 unpaid Content and Media internship at Back on My Feet

Your work and experiences with Back on My Feet will be more meaningful than this cat's, I swear.

I hate unpaid internships. I think they suck.

So I’m going to make the one I’m offering as meaningful as I possibly can.

Since January, I’ve worked for homeless running and opportunity-development nonprofit Back on My Feet. Homeless advocacy nonprofits aren’t known for being flush with cash. You can decide whether they’re even legal and what they say about our organization.

But the rules are a little bit different in the mission-orientated nonprofit world. I am the first in this role, creating what the media and marketing department of ours should look like.

And already, it’s time to bring on an intern this summer to help me with my role as Director of Media and Social Marketing in our Center City Philadelphia headquarters at 15th and Locust streets. The good news is that because I hate so much being unable to pay an intern, I’m looking to make it a meaningful learning experience.

See the formal Content and Media internship description here, but the short of it is that I’ll be looking for someone sharp and engaged and interested in social advocacy, the Web and content.

You’ll work with me on creating community and audience building via social media, including our yet to be officially released blog. I’ll be expecting 15-20 hours a week, but for the right candidate, I’m going to be flexible in time and space.

So, contact me already or spread the word.

Number of Views:4930

Seamless Workforce: Talking Philadelphia technology trends with Yoh

Sometimes people think you have something interesting to say.

I first met Joel Capperella, who works for Yoh, a 70-year-old technology staffing firm and business unit of Day & Zimmerman, when he showed up out of curiosity at a Philly Startup Leaders Fishbowl on Technically Philly.

In his role at Yoh, he contributes to the company’s blog, the Seamless Workforce. A few weeks ago, he asked if I wanted to grab dinner, chat a bit about the region’s technology scene and record some audio for their blog.

I sure seem to like talking, so I was happy to oblige. Below, I share the links to what managed to become a three-part series

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Failure is not an option, it’s a necessity: Technically Philly at BarCamp NewsInnovation

A year after focusing strictly on business, the three of us at Technically Philly took a softer approach at BarCamp NewsInnovation 2.0, which we again sponsored and organized [Notes here].

The event was held today, April 24, 2010, again at Temple University.

Find video, our slides and presentation notes from our talk below.

Failure is not an option (it’s a necessity)

Five Stories about Failure

1. Ad Sales — “Until you have the right person, you are the right person.”

FAILURE: Wasted time, energy and resources. [Tried a half dozen commission-based sales people]

LESSON: We should have been selling ads ourselves.

2. Business Roadmap — “Don’t hang out with Brian. It’s depressing.”

FAILURE: We thought we’d be making money by month three.

LESSON: Double or triple the time your business plan will take.

3. Business Criticism — “To be honest, we’re not always sure what [Technically Philly is] trying to accomplish.”

FAILURE: Uh, we were criticized in a best-of issue.

LESSON: If you’re noticed, your work will be scrutinized.

4. Potential Partners — “I don’t see the point of meeting.”

FAILURE: Turned down an opportunity to meet with a key business leader.

LESSON: In this new media environment, everyone is a potential partner.

5. Investment (sappy anecdote) — “Well, that wasn’t THAT depressing.”

FAILURE: We started Technically Philly (and said some silly things in front of important people).

LESSON: We’ve learned much, met many people and improved what we know in the space of journalism.

The presentation is also available here. See and hear the presentation from Samurai Tours here.

When we were asked for more embarrassing stories, we realized we should have also shared the story of our speaking engagement with the Women’s Press Association of Pennsylvania, in which no one showed except the organizer and former Philadelphia mayoral candidate Queena Bass. Or we could have told one of the half dozen times Sean has been under dressed when going to cover events.

It was a fun session with a few practical takeaways, we hope. If nothing else, it seemed well-received.

Some Tweets

  • Anthony Ruiz of Samurai Virtual Tours quotes me about being stupid
  • Freelancer Amy Z Quinn agrees on the concept
  • Freelancer Morgan Zalot picks up on our swearing working in threes is the best
  • Newspaper company digital chief Jason Krustifek noted our take that everyone can be a partner.
Number of Views:3980

William Penn Foundation details plan for Philadelphia online journalism network

Updated 4/25/10 @ 5:41 p.m. with William Penn Foundation clarification

Fewer than four months after its Philadelphia media elite round table to discuss the subject, the William Penn Foundation has released a more detailed outline of its intentions of investing and developing local online journalism in the region.

The report, which was released Wednesday, comes from the J-Lab journalism institute at American University and its Executive Director, Pulitzer Prize winner and former Philadelphia Inquirer business editor Jan Schaffer.

“While we’re not ready to brand the project at this point, it is fair to characterize what we have in mind as an independent journalism collaborative,” said the foundation’s President Feather Houstoun in an e-mail to stakeholders in the initiative.

The final report, which can be read in its entirety here, tacitly outlines the steps to develop roughly two things: (1) a central website of public affairs coverage and (2)  a journalism collaboration by way of staff, funding and shared administrative and business services — which I like to think was at least partially influenced by our pushing on with News Inkubator.

Updated: The William Penn Foundation will not “necessarily” implement what was found in the report, communications director Brent Thompson told me.

More broadly, as Schaffer wrote in an e-mail to those she interviewed in her months-long research: “After a deep analysis of the media landscape, J-Lab has recommended that Philadelphia is ripe for a unique Networked Journalism collaborative, partnering new media makers with original reporting on public affairs.”

It’s a quick and more detailed move less than half a year a large stakeholders meeting that was less than decisive.

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Fishtown Spirit: Community meeting coverage of soda tax, I-95 and more

Mayor Nutter Press Aide Katherine Martin addresses the April Fishtown Neighbors Association meeting.

A few times a month, I go out to civic and town watch meetings in a variety of neighborhoods. Yes, I actually find most of them to be fun — local politics on the smallest of scale.

Since moving to Fishtown, I’ve begun going to monthly Fishtown Action and Fishtown Neighbors Meetings and filing reports for the Fishtown Spirit. It’s all within a few blocks of my house and endearing to be sure. Each month, I’ll probably share those two and any other pieces I might have had in the Spirit.

As I wrote after my first piece for my small, local community news weekly, it’s my way of getting to know new people and the issues facing them in a new neighborhood.

I have one on two controversial proposals in today’s issue:

City officials defended two controversial proposals to close a $150 million shortfall in the city’s 2011 budget at last week’s Fishtown Neighbors Association meeting.

During the 90 minute session that saw raised voices and broad criticism of city spending, Deputy Streets Commissioner Carlton Williams addressed a proposed $300 trash collection fee and Mayoral Press Aide Katharine Martin talked about the two-cent-per-ounce sweetened beverage excise tax. Both proposals need City Council approval and remain executive branch proposals that are vying against ongoing deliberations, including suggestions to raise property taxes and tax smokeless tobacco products.

Read the rest here, or below find other pieces I’ve done in the past few months below.

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BarCamp NewsInnovation 2: Who I’m hoping to meet

Nearly 200 journalists, bloggers, innovators and technologists have signed up to attend the free-to-attend second national BarCamp NewsInnovation un-conference held this Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Temple University in North Philadelphia.

Last year, lots of attention came from the first national un-conference dedicated to news, information and journalism, and it was when I first became exasperated with the conversation that revolved around advertising and advertising alone as a print mode.

I spoke about community news sites with my two co-founders of Technically Philly and the upcoming challenges of branding online in a print-heavy community with the founder of NEast Philly. In both cases and what I felt was a bit of a trend, the conversation revolved around — even in April 2009 — about what had gone wrong and what we all were going to do about it.

In October, lead BCNI organizer Sean Blanda asked what should be different about the second. Lots of suggestions came his way, but I think one will happen a bit more naturally.

I’m expecting much more of a conversation about what we are doing now about the ‘future of journalism.’ So looking at the long list of attendees, I already have in my mind a handful of people who are doing things that I’ll be interested to meet.

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Number of Views:4507