I just returned from NEXPO, which I'm told is the largest newspaper conference. The exhibition floor was the largest I've ever seen. There were several huge printing presses there. The event was definitely different from the conferences I'm accustomed to attending. There may have been five geeks in total. It was entirely business and traditional media types and I've been on the road so long I haven't had a chance to get a much needed haircut. 🙂 I did have a great time. We were demoing MindTouch Nexus (see press release below). MindTouch Nexus is a wiki based community service geared to online media, publishing, newspapers and ecommerce. This provides the third component readers expect from online media and newspapers when they visit their website or online properties. Already these sites have trusted editorial content. They're also fulfilling the syndicated content requirement. With Nexus they can provide what their readers are demanding: the ability to participate in a very real way; specifically, in the creation of the most comprehensive encyclopedic directory of local resources. This is about getting the community involved in helping to create the most comprehensive hyper-local content repository.
We presented two properties at Nexpo: AmplifySD and the Orlando Sentinel Wiki. The AmplifySD site is almost certainly already the most comprehensive resource for local music, bands, and venues in San Diego and will continue to grow. The Orlando Sentinel Wiki is a generic proof of concept site we launched in just a few days prior to NEXPO, but it's been very well received and already has some great hyper-local content.
There was a ton of talk at the conference about hyper-local content and empowering communities. Most traditional media outlets are beginning to understand the need and value of this. Newspapers are realizing they have to own the local content space if they wish to be viable. Other online media, publishing, and ecommerce sites are realizing the power and benefits of enabling a community. Most of the folks I spoke with at NEXPO either have blogs and forums attached to their web properties or are just now beginning to launch these tools. Blogs and forums are a great start, but a wiki makes a lot more sense if you want to encourage participation, and if you want to own the local content space.
Blogs are great for one person or a few people to publish to many readers. This is really about providing a rapid publishing tool mostly for featured topics and enabling your audience to comment. This is great for reviewers, critics, etc. However, this enables very limited community participation (comments only) and information is only able to be presented anti-chronologically. This is to say that the most relevant information is always the newest. In reality blogs are a single thread forum engine. Forums are wonderful for question/answer kind of topics. However, forums too are limited to an anti-chronological information architecture. Both forums and blogs quickly become difficult to navigate and find what you're looking for. Neither technology is suitable to collaborative authoring or developing a reference site. Enter wikis.
Wikis are wonderful for online collaboration and are the obvious choice for developing reference sites. Take Wikipedia for example. Newspapers that deploy wikis can provide a very useful service to their readers. They can give them the opportunity to participate in creating the most comprehensive encyclopedic directory of local resources. This benefits everyone. Newspapers can't do this alone. They couldn't afford it and it wouldn't be authentic. Moreover, the community would have difficulty creating a "localpedia" without the help of the newspapers. Newspapers can provide the infrastructure, editors and journalists to assist in shaping the quality of the content, the very important initial or seed content to get the wiki started, and an incentive for local businesses and community members to participate. It's a mutually beneficial partnership.
For newspapers a "localpedia", whether topic specific or generic in nature, might be the holy grail with which they can empower, reward, and benefit from citizens' input. Local businesses benefit by having a medium to make their presence known on a contextually relevant basis to readers who are seeking their services. Readers benefit by having a useful and comprehensive encyclopedia of local events, businesses, history, places, sports, and whatever else. Wouldn't it be wonderful to be vacationing in San Diego and to have a wikipedia like resource of local events, places, and historical reference at your finger tips to guide your planning?
I mentioned previously a "localpedia" that might be either topic specific or generic. I think this is keenly important because the more narrowly you focus your "localpedia" the less seeding of content is required. For example, the AmplifySD site focuses solely on local music, bars, bands, and venues. The San Diego Union Tribune only had to seed content on these topics. It's critically important for them to do so because when readers/participants visit the site they need a framework to operate in; otherwise you run the risk of confusing them. The San Diego Union Tribune is launching many narrowly focused "localpedias" using MindTouch Nexus. Also, by focusing the topics there is a lower barrier for the users to contribute–they have to think less. Moreover, if they've arrived at a narrowly focused "localpedia" they've almost certainly done so because it's a topic that interests them and the content is focuses solely on this topic; therefore they'll be more inclined to participate.
MindTouch Nexus is a turnkey hosted service that integrates with SignOnSanDiego’s website and publishing system. It enables SignOnSanDiego readers to easily contribute content on subjects that interest them and collaborate with other readers and editors with an intuitive WYSIWIG editing tool. They can post text, images, video and MP3 clips. MindTouch Nexus provides many tools for SignOnSanDiego editors to manage how user-generated content can be blended with editorial and syndicated content on the site. Pages can be set to edit, comment or read-only mode, and are indexed and linkable, searchable and taggable. Contributions can be submitted on their own or in context of an article or other editorial content.
“We believe MindTouch Nexus will generate large volumes of fresh content which will in turn build traffic, increase the ability to post more targeted advertising and deepen our connection with the dynamic San Diego County community,” said Chris Jennewein Vice President, Internet Operations of Union-Tribune Publishing Co. “The need to harness user-generated content is the new reality for all online media, and MindTouch Nexus provides us with a powerful tool to fulfill that need in a controlled way.”
The agreement with SignOnSanDiego calls for a continuous rollout of sites and topics, starting with AmplifySD (www.amplifySD.com), a site dedicated to the vibrant and influential San Diego music scene. Visitors to the site can post articles, images, video and MP3 clips of their favorite bands, and i
nclude their history, music reviews, tours, discographies and more. MindTouch Nexus provides a central platform for music lovers to edit or comment on each other’s contributions and interact with the musicians and others involved in the business. Its targeted launch is in May, 2007.
“We selected MindTouch due to its extensible technology, customer-friendly business approach and business model,” said Ron James, Content Manager of SignOnSanDiego. “MindTouch Nexus does not require any capital investment or large upfront expenditure, and is immediately deployable with an attractive pay-for-performance model. All these factors made its selection easy for us.”
“We are proud to have SignOnSanDiego, a well-known innovator in the online media world, as our launch customer for MindTouch Nexus,” said Ken Liu, MindTouch’s CEO. “We are excited by how their long-term vision for community-generated content meshes with our capabilities, which we will showcase in a continuous stream of new features and launches in the coming months.”
Why would a newspaper, online publishing/media, or ecommerce site use MindTouch's technology over the countless open source wikis and few other commercial vendors out there? There are many reasons why MindTouch Nexus makes the most sense. Visit www.MindTouch.com for a complete picture or contact MindTouch directly (866) MindTouch or (866) 646-3868. I'll mention just a few reasons why Nexus is the best choice here. The first reason is that MindTouch Nexus is a platform that has been specifically designed for the needs of this space–it's completely customizable and easily integrated with existing systems. The product is vendor backed and you have multiple support options. MindTouch Nexus and other MindTouch wiki products are the most easy to use in this space and this means the barrier to participate is dramatically lower than other offerings. Try out the competitions' offerings and you'll undoubtedly agree. Also, and perhaps most importantly, MindTouch Nexus is designed to make it very easy to integrate with other systems. Not just for things like single-signon, but also to weave the community content into the editorial content and vice-versa.
The following are the three most asked questions about MindTouch Nexus at NEXPO:
Will we have to change our existing systems? Absolutely not. MindTouch Nexus is easily integrated into all of your existing systems and MindTouch can turn on a new in a few hours to a few days depending upon the level of integration and customization. None of your existing technologies or tools need to be changed.
If I launch MindTouch Nexus as a hosted service does this mean I will have new or different traffic analytics, different ads, and will I still get traffic rank increases from this new property? MindTouch Nexus will integrate with your existing analytics, advertising engines and you will receive the Nielson or Alexa ranking for the traffic. If you're new to this space and need help with analytics or advertising MindTouch can help.
How do I control the community? Without getting esoteric on controlling a community I'll just state succinctly: MindTouch gives you very fine granularity in controlling who can edit what. You also have the ability to create trusted users that don't get put into moderation. Moreover, MindTouch has been doing this community thing for a while now and can help in establishing the best strategy to creating a successful deployment.
If you have more questions about MindTouch Nexus or another MindTouch product email firstname.lastname@example.org.