Directors' blog

Links, thoughts and updates from the directors of Dim Sum Digital.

Experiment: News from your local town via mobile

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I made a thing…..

I’d like to think that when I use those four words in the subject line of emails it provokes a little spark of interest in my colleagues (possibly they just evoke a fearful uhoh!) but this time I’ll try it out on you.

The latest ‘thing’ I’ve messed with is an experiment to distribute news from the north into the mobile space using some of the tools available at the platform I’m working with,

It means that any mobile phone user who has the app downloaded will discover the news headlines and links from their local newspaper to click straight through to the provider to find out the full story, explore their site etc.

It runs off the news organisation’s public RSS feeds with the addition of geo-tagging to the town or city where it is based so – a person walking around Manchester will be able to serendipitously receive news from the MEN, in Newcastle the Journal, Sheffield The Star and so on.

The content is created via the app and then fed into an online noticeboard which becomes the way the stories are ultimately accessed via a mobile site, Android app or iPhone app.

All of the content can be seen in one go at this noticeboard although it’s unlikely that anyone (perhaps with the exception of journalists for monitoring purposes) would want to view it in that rather random way. Instead, it really is intended for mobile discovery where the location of the user provides the context.
You can download the apps to test it out here – android, iPhone.
Once logged in you can set your location and see all that’s been geotagged around you (notices) or restrict to everything via the Northerner noticeboard (boards).
A few things I learned from doing it:

  • some news sites make it really difficult to hunt down the RSS feeds – why? They’re the building blocks for people to make things which have the potential to find new audiences.
  • it wasn’t possible to tag the stories to the locations mentioned in the copy due to a lack of geo-tagging at source. This is an area I’m working with on a few different projects (including augmented reality) and one which I’d be interested to hear from anyone looking to incorporate it in their regular journalism work or content management systems.
  • The feeds currently included are: The Guardian’s Northerner blog, MEN, Middlesbrough Gazette, Newcastle Chronicle, Liverpool Echo, Lancashire Evening Post, Yorkshire Evening Post, Carlisle News and Star, York Press, Sheffield Star, Northern Echo.
  • should it include local blogs? Any newsy-based bloggers out there who’d like to be included, please give me a shout and I’ll add you in. Likewise, anyone currently included who would rather not have their content exposed to a mobile audience – just let me know and I’ll drop it out. It’s an experiment, I don’t want to annoy anyone.

If you’d like a similar thing for your own blog or website – basically it’s like having your own mobile app – the tools used are available to all here and I’m on hand to offer some help or advice if needed.

Written by sarahhartley

January 11th, 2013 at 8:13 am

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  1. [...]… – A nice experiment to push local news to mobile users by @foodiesarah.”<a test using and @n0tice” [...]

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