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Portfolio

EN.nl

EN.nl news website
 

EN.nl

What is you start a news website from scratch and try to leverage technology the furthest we can. This is the question that got us started with EN.nl. We build a completely autonomous news website. A news service that learned readers behavior and adapted to the individual reader.

The year long journey brought learned us a lot about find a balance between editor’s and automation. The rise of personalisation. What people say they want and what they actually click. And how to build a strong technical news infrastructure that’s versatile and flexible. As a product owner I was responsible for the innovation project. The EN.nl project was a project of de Volkskrant Innovation department. The technology, research and learnings from EN.nl benefitted multiple sites and projects within de Volkskrant, resulting in an optimzed workflow and readers behavior.

Role(s)

Design Research, Product Design, Product Owner, Interaction Design, Visual Design

Data

2009 – 2010

Company

EN (Volkskrant), www.en.nl (site is offline, available through archive.org)

EN.nl had the first iPhone optimized news website in the Netherlands
 
EN.nl NRC Handelsblad newspaper clipping
 

Screen recoding

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Portfolio

de Volkskrant

Redesign Volkskrant.nl
 

De Volkskrant

Over the past decade the news industry is in a major transition. It has to reïnvent the business model and distribution model. At the same time, we consume more news then ever before. It’s a growth market that has to reinvent itself. This is what really attracted me to the media industry. De Volkskrant is a leading Dutch newspaper.

At the Volkskant I worked as Senior Interaction Designer and Product Owner for 5 years on a range of projects focussed on web, mobile and innovation. I did two redesigns of the major News website Volkskrant.nl. I build the first video player and worked on video distribution to mobile and smart TV’s. I worked on satellite websites around travel and opinion. I explored new distribution models of news resulting in the first API. I worked on mobile and widgets.

Roles(s)

Design Research, Product Design, Product Owner, Interaction Design, Visual Design

Data

2005 – 2010

Company

Volkskrant, www.volkskrant.nl

Volkskrant iPhone app
 
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Portfolio

Yournews, a video interface for mobile video and citizen journalism (graduation project)

Yournews (renamed to Medialandschap) is a project designed to amplify the power of low-end video content people create. At a growing speed this by users created content – so called ‘citizen journalism’ – is created and spread online. Yournews ask users to upload this video, usually created with mobile phones or digital photo-cameras and uses meta information to create a rich set of data.

The visual interface and structure enhance the value of the information in order to get more and a better coherent information structure for users to play with, form and reshape.

The news videos created by people will connect to videos with content alike.

Medialandschap
Medialandschap

The button is click and drag, the raised level of a box indicates the amount of videos, the color signals how long ago a new video was posted in a box, the slider allows you to go back into time. The 3 layers above the map are video channels automatically generated.

The interface uses many different axes to sort information, giving the user freedom and make it easy to search large collections of data. Axes like: time, location, popularity, latest changes, additions, amount, subject or on a visual selection (attractive images). Users are also able to view broadcasts based on predefined values. The goal of the interface is to be very clear and easy to use, like an infographic.

Categories
Journalism Live Web Notes

Thoughts about the near future of news distribution based on some trends

Thoughts about how and what will change in news distribution in the next 10 years, by extrapolating some movements that are happening right now.

Let me know how you think about this, and please correct me if you think my assumptions are wrong.

1. Display advertising revenues will keep fading.
Banner supported is not a sustainable business model for news websites. Pageview prices are declining, inventory goes up and banner blindness is very real. News “engagement” is shifting to social networks.

At the same time brands are looking for brand experiences involving customers. They are building their own or public platforms to connect with customers. Display advertising is not adding enough value, even when it’s cheap.

NGO’s are practicing, funding or hosting journalism. They not only hire journalists they are hosting and distributing the stories themselves.

2. Television will take revenge.
With internet enabled television sets, the tv becomes a more interesting medium. There is always something to watch. Social layers will make live events more interesting. Especially news and sports events. Television interfaces need to change. We need new interface thinking for televisions. We need what the iPhone interface did to the mobile interface design thinking of all mobile phones.

3. Mobile becomes the #1 internet device.
Phone users outnumber computer users. Technology fits in phones and the lifecycle of a phone is shorter compared to a computer. The phone is a personal device, most computers aren’t. It’s the #1 communication device and this makes it the best device to share news. Todays modern mobile phone can do most things a computer could do in 2007.

4. Serendipity redefined.
Serendipity was something that belonged to newspapers and magazines. Serendipity was about the stories you found by accident in newspapers and magazines, small surprises. The web brought a new kind of serendipity, you found stuff by browsing. Social networks enhanced this experience. You find stuff because of your network. The “new” serendipity isn’t captured in media, it’s in the people. This is serendipity on a completely new level, it’s personal.

5. Databases become public
I don’t want to go into a discussion of when or if we ever will get a semantic web. What you can see is that more information becomes public and it is more structured. When databases go public more people can combine information to make new information, more people can practice database journalism.

6. Information availability and accessibility explodes
The web is still growing and it will probably never stop. As interfaces, global coverage and search evolve more people get easy access to all of this information. More information is a good thing, all you need is good filters. Those filters can be computers or human.

7. The real time web, we are all continuously connected.
Continuously connected, sharing more and more personal information. Maybe for safety, for fun or for voyeurism. Sharing creates online existence. Everything you do is information, combine this with point 5 and 6.

8. News agencies will no longer lead the discussion
They will keep losing the signaling function, because everyone is a (re)broadcaster in his or her own network. And they will find it difficult to control, lead or own the discussion. Discussions become fluid, you can start them, but you can’t own or host them.

Conclusive thoughts:
News is and will be a more social experience.

Your (social) network will be important to help you make order out of information chaos.

News outlets will act like hubs for people sharing the same ideas.

The media- or informationlandscape polarizes, like magazines. More media will engage on the same level, making them working great together or strong competitors.

Information will be free. All you have to do is connect the dots instead of creating them.

News will be about guiding and analyzing, almost like a curator. If you’re a good curator, you add value.

Curators are often people.

The news eco system will be much more decentralized, making it stronger.

The system how news distribution works right now is just not made for the media of tomorrow. The traditional ecosystem for news will be disrupted.

The new eco system will inform us better.

Categories
Journalism Live Web The Social Web

What a news organization looks like in a social media driven web

Social media is becoming a very influential referrer. Website like Facebook and Twitter generate growing amounts of traffic websites. They work best for the live web (news) and for memes. And they are in the race to become serious competition for Google in getting the right people on the right page.

Social media (Twitter/Facebook) is the new Google (making the web more useful with its service). It doesn’t care about page rank. It cares about what people think and how trustworthy and influential people are.

Google and Twitter are very different in a number of ways.

Google

  1. Longer URL, the longer the better
  2. Getting bigger websites to link to your website
  3. Know and find
  4. Authenticity
  5. Ranking content
  6. Optimization
  7. The best of time

Twitter

  1. Short URL, an URL is waste of space
  2. Getting influential online people to talk about your website
  3. Follow and discover
  4. Creativity
  5. Ranking people
  6. Lobbying
  7. The best of now

What does this mean for news reporting?
The major news websites and publication systems weren’t really designed for SEO. They are still catching up, far behind the current technological state blogs are in.

While media and journalist are still blaming Google the second disrupting innovation for their Industry is already taking place. And this time they won’t be able to blaim a company.

What about the editors? Google was about systems, about technology. The current wave of social media is about people. Are the news editors – the current and a new generation – ready?

The link
A news organization in a social media environment doesn’t have to create content, it creates context around links. It directs you. That’s the function of a news organization. Guide you as a customer to the best information you can find. Sometimes this mean (re)writing a summary or story, other times it means linking to other good stuff.

It’s also about value. If you – as a content creator – are not adding much to what’s already out there you can’t expect to have a sustainable business model. If you don’t add much, you won’t get much.

The link is the most important asset of the web. It is for Google and it is for Twitter. In a social media driven web it’s not about the content the link directs to. It’s about who presents the link. Linking builds trust. You have to earn this trust by linking to things that add value for your audience.

Jay Rosen, professor at NYU on the ethic of the link

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Featured Journalism

Four fallacies about monetizing news online

The off- and online news markets around the world are under pressure. Newsmedia and press agencies feel the urge to find money, fast. As a result news companies are looking at alternatives to make more online revenues.

Although the money is needed the solutions aren’t always solutions. Ideas I’ve heard so far.
1. Find a model to pay for referral (for example charge Google)
2. Fight copyright infringement more actively (or pay for linking/embedding)
3. Charge your customers
4. Find some way to keep exclusive content exclusive.

These are all fallacies and in my opinion, and easy to deconstruct.

1. Pay for referral (for example charge Google)
Google directs a big portion of the online traffic. Probably not forever, but they are controlling it right now. Their business is to help people from point a to b without noise. This is key to Google. If they add noise or become less relevant a competitor will eventually take over their position.

There is no reason to pay. I think Google is good for almost 30/50% of the traffic to newspaper websites. And even more to some sections. News websites benefit from Google traffic.

If Google wants to be #1 the news provider, they can buy or create a press agency. Google is probably one of the few companies that can generate enough traffic to support the total costs of a press agency with online advertising.

A while ago I argued that online news is a freelance job in a network instead of a job in a company. You might like to read it, it relates to this subject.

Unlike paper hierarchy is less important online. Personal relevancy is much more important. For example. I read a few articles on the website of the New York Times almost every day. I almost never use the navigation or start at the homepage. I’m referred to the articles from blogs, search engines and social networks like Times People and Facebook. I love the NY Times. I don’t really care about the homepage or navigation structure.

Newsmedia should find hierarchy in design on the front-end for a large group of users. In the background they should put online as much information (enriched with metadata) as possible. New relevancy is not in owning the information. It is in what you can do with it. The web has no destinations, only stops.

2. Fight copyright infringement
Sure, people should respect fair use. And companies that aggregate and resell your complete data set should be stopped. This isn’t the biggest problem. Those companies that are mass copying your content are easier to find. The smaller infringements are readers with blogs, the long tail. Those readers are your fans. Just let them friendly know that what they do is not fair use, and suggest what they should do. They often don’t even realize what they are doing and if you just tell them you’re making friends (readers) for life.

3. Charge your customers
You have to make sure your content is worth it. What makes the thing you make more valuable compared to what your competitors do for free? People trust the brand and are willing to pay for derivations on the web. They might not want to pay for the things you offer on a daily base. Your brand or community creates value and this is value you can monetize. The brand of a newspaper is trust and openness. Find things that are close to your brand and with this you can make money. For example Nike is about the running experience. And they sell a lot of stuff around this experience, including shoes. If your newspaper is good in certain subjects, for example healthcare. Why not start a health insurance, the web makes it easy to do so. Or start a bank. The banking business could use some trust. Make sure the things you do live up to your brand standards.

Is this still transparent journalism? I think it can be, I don’t know. As long as you give access to all the numbers and all of your information, if you make yourself controllable. If you create a community and if you keep close to your brand it can be very transparent. In the long run your brand is about the truth and transparency. You can only benefit if you will always respect this.

4. Find some way to keep exclusive content exclusive.
You can’t. The web is for sharing. The only thing to keep something exclusive is to charge people for it. That’s why there is no real online business model for mass information, like news. The news will get out anyway, because people will tell it and someone will amplify the story or make a summary.

There is something the web is very good in and that’s in creating communities. Newsmedia should realize that you shouldn’t do research on your own attic. Share the information. Create a process instead of creating a moment. In a live storytelling environment the process is much more relevant and interesting. It also generates authority and creates an expert role. In a process the product (or publication moment) is less important. It’s about what’s going on. Share data with your readers and setup communities to discuss and analyze.

Categories
Interactive Video Live Web Online Identity The Social Web

The Value of Portable Social networks

CNN / Facebook
CNN videostream with Facebook integration (zoom)

The Obama inauguration was broadcasted everywhere. Every upcoming video sharing-, hosting- or distributionservice did something around the big Obama event.

I think the most exiting and successful combination was what CNN did together with Facebook. CNN had a high quality live videostream with Facebook updates from your friends talking about the video stream.

The power of distribution
Current TV
Current TV on the web (zoom)

Current TV was also broadcasting the event on television and used Twitter. Which is great for television, because television is a one-to-many medium and you can easily interact with the television by using a Twitter client on your phone or laptop.

Facebook was the best option for the web. Watching video on the web is more a personal and more interactive experience. This is what Facebooks adds. You’re watching the stream, not with the world (like Twitter+TV) but with your friends/contacts.

The computer is much more personal compared to a television and thus the interaction should be more personal as well. My social network is not your social network. It’s a distributed conversation.

Portable Social Networks
These kind of combinations or applications can only be created if social networks are (partly) open and allow services like CNN to use the network. For this event CNN didn’t create conversation tools, networks or any other infrastructure. They just connected the dots of Facebook to the dots of what they do best. Making live television.

This is what happens when services open up. You get the best of both worlds. Portable social networks are the future.

NY Times
NY Times
The New York Times homepage (zoom)

Ustream
Ustream
Ustream (zoom)

Joost
Joost
Joost (zoom)