A place to corral my personal thoughts and bookmarked links on new technologies in journalism
Verdict: I like it. This is a great tool (yes, I know I’m behind the curve). The only thing I wish is that it had more social features. I’d love to be able to cross-post to Twitter/Facebook and the live chat box, rather than just being able to pull in tweets.
A colleague asked me yesterday, if I was going to help a real newbie dive into the world of web and social media, what exercises would I have them do to get their brains thinking the right way.
Obviously the best answer is to consume a lot of digital content and to read things like Mashable and RWW on a regular basis. But it’s easier for people to dive in if they have concrete and finite tasks to complete, in my opinion. So here’s what I came up with as “Lesson 1”:
Task 1) Intro to Blogging: Identify a few blogs you like and figure out why you like them.
Here are some that I like:
I’m getting more and more skeptical about the value of inline links. Not about link journalism, which I think is the future (context! curation! yes, please!), but about the presentation of those links inline as hyperlinked text. Here’s why:
1) Hyperlinked text often doesn’t tell you exactly what you’re getting when you click on it.
Check out this post from Geekologie, one of my favorite blogs as an example. The hyperlinked words are “pot” “pr0n” “sign” and “road.” In not a single one of those cases do I know clearly what I’ll get if I click.
2) Hyperlinked text in the middle of a sentence or paragraph disrupts the flow of your thinking.
When a part of a sentence is hyperlinked, you have to stop for a second and think whether you want to leave what you’re currently reading smack in the middle to go read something else. Sure, you can open it in a new tab to set it aside for later, but it’s still disruptive to the flow (and not everyone is a compulsive tab collector like I am).
Read Write Web suggests moving links to a list at the end of a story, almost like endnotes.
I don’t think I agree with that either. By the time I get to the end, I’m not sure I would remember why each link is supposed to be relevant.
There was a great piece I read that I wish I could resurrect, but can’t seem to find anymore, that described a usability study testing link placement on an article. The three options were inline, at the end, or in a sidebar. If I’m remembering correctly, they found that inline were the least usable, and endnotes and sidebars were equally usable.
My suggestion is what I’ve been doing here:
When the hyperlink is to something that illustrates a point, include it as an inset immediately after the relevant text. This way, the reader gets to finish your argument before being directed to the example, and he/she gets more information about what the link will be.
I still included inline links in places where I was paraphrasing or referring to information from a specific article. The reader doesn’t need to access the article, because I’m already including the information they need to know, but the link is there as a courtesy and a reference. I guess these types of links could be done as insets as well, but I like the idea of keeping a distinction between source material that the reader doesn’t need to access and featured external material that will enrich the reader’s understanding.