Archive for July, 2011

Pixazza rebrands as Luminate, looking to make images more interactive

July 27th, 2011

The company formerly known as Pixazza has rebranded as Luminate and they’re launching a new platform today that changes what you think of when you hear the word “images.” Instead of being static photos, Luminate turns images into mini applications.

“Images are the center of the Web,” Bob Lisbonne, the company’s CEO, told USA Today. “But until now, they didn’t do anything. “We want to put little apps at the bottom of the image, so that there’s interactivity, there’s information, there’s functionality…behind every image you see online.”

So how does it work? When a user mouses over an image, they’re given a number of ways they can interact with it, such as shopping, sharing, commenting and navigating. For example, using the image above, when a user clicks on the Luminate icon in the corner of an image he or she is given options to see more details about the dress in the image, including links on where to buy it:

You can also share directly with friends via social networks; find out stats about athletes within photos; there are links to related info online; users can tag images based on geography and more.

The ability to layer product data onto images is not new, but Luminate promises a streamlined, simple process with a very reach feature set.

The company has racked up 4,000 publishers who now use the technology, including US Weekly, Hearst Digital Media and Access Hollywood. In addition, Luminate delivers ads seen by more than 150 million unique users per month — triple the numbers the company saw at the start of 2011. The new platform is expected to deliver even larger audiences across categories such as commerce, information, social, organization, advertising, navigation, public service and presentation.

Luminate has raised nearly $20 million in funding and competitors include Stipple, Image Space Media, GumGum and others.

Google News adds badges to identify content you engage with most

July 15th, 2011

I typically associate badges with anything that is gamified, Foursquare being the best and most famous example of using badges to reward someone unlocks an achievement.

But as of yesterday in the U.S., Google has added badges to its Google News service. The badges are designed to help you keep track of what type of content you engage with most, and what you most often click-through to read.

Take politics for example: If you continue to visit Google News and consume politics content, you’ll earn a badge related to that. The more content you read related to that topic, the higher level badge you’ll receive. Badges start at a bronze level and then move up to silver, gold, platinum and ultimate. Google says it has more than 500 badges available for almost any interest. Here is a sample:

Google News badges

As you earn more badges, they begin to show up on your Google News page and you can then use those badges to create sections related to specific content.

Badges are private by default, but you can share them with friends and use the +1 features. To get started with badges, Google says you need to visit Google News from a signed-in account with web history enabled and then visit this page on the Help Center for instructions. Google says this is just the first step of what is possible with badges.

I applaud the effort to be different, and think it could definitely help people create sections that curate content based on their interest. Readers may unconsciously know they have an addiction to Harry Potter stories, but once the badge pops up it may be a more direct confirmation. The ability to create sections on the fly based on interest, is also great.

That said, I don’t think this is a huge step forward, either. People will always drill-down into a site to find content they want or they will use a search function to get it. While the badges are good reminders and direct links to find content we want and like, I don’t think they’re much different than simply bookmarking a section you’re interested in.

Also, in its current form I’m not sure badges are the most appropriate tool to promote this activity; badges typically are rewarded to people for reaching achievements, and I don’t see this as achieving anything. It may promote increased activity among some users, but for those who truly compete to earn badges, I think this initiative fails to address the real underlying reason people compete to unlock badges. I will be watching closely to see how this changes over time. It’s a good start, for sure.

What do you think about the new Google News badges?

Digital Journal announces Global Editorial Meetings

July 5th, 2011

Digital Journal's David Silverberg (left) and Chris Hogg discuss the company's Global Editorial Meetings.Today, my company, Digital Journal, made a big editorial announcement. To keep you up-to-date, I’ve included a press release below:

Digital Journal today announced a new community newsroom initiative aimed at widening the scope of news covered globally, and involving the public in the news creation process.

Dubbed “Global Editorial Meetings,” these online chat story meetings are open to the public and hosted on Digital Journal.

“Every news organization has story meetings,” said Chris Hogg, CEO of Digital Journal. “But traditionally they happen behind closed doors, with a selected group of individuals deciding what everyone should be reading. We want to change that to see how editorial direction will shift by opening up these meetings to the public. Starting this month, our Global Editorial Meetings will allow everyone to share details on what kind of stories we should be covering, and what stories are going unnoticed in the press.”

As a hybrid news network that combines professional journalists with citizen journalists and bloggers, Digital Journal has always taken a forward-thinking approach to journalism. The company has successfully crowdsourced thousands of story ideas from a large and growing contributor base and held liveblog workshops on journalistic practices. With Global Editorial Meetings, Digital Journal is going one step further to open up these meetings to give an editorial voice to literally everyone.

In the Global Editorial Meetings, Digital Journal staff members and editors will chat live with readers, journalists, bloggers, photographers and passionate news junkies about important stories and topics from their city, province/state or country.

Conversation will focus on multiple geographies and news verticals, and particular attention will be focused on stories the public believes are being under-reported.

After these Global Editorial Meetings are complete, Digital Journal will use feedback and input to assign stories to thousands of Digital Journalists around the world. The company will use its Assignments technology to create, track and organize a massive editorial project to provide the public with content it wants.

The first Global Editorial Meeting will take place on July 11 at 9 a.m. (Eastern time), and the second will happen July 21 at 2 p.m. (Eastern time). A third Global Editorial Meeting will take place on July 28 at 8 p.m. (Eastern time). The live chat conversations will use Cover It Live and anyone can participate.

To participate in a chat, visit the Digital Journal Global Editorial Meetings group and click on the blog post for the day(s) you wish to attend. You can set a reminder for yourself on the embedded chat widget inside each post.

“Our goal is to get our finger on the pulse of the world,” said David Silverberg, Managing Editor of Digital Journal. “Combining the public’s voice with the Digital Journal platform to create, assign and publish content is a really powerful marriage. We hope to be able to get a much better sense of what people find important, and then deliver that information to Digital Journalists who can make sure those voices are being heard by providing coverage of all those topics.”

“Digital Journal is recognized as a pioneer in the news industry for bringing in everyday people as reporters,” said Hogg. “We want to continue to lead by example, and so we’re opening up our newsrooms and giving the public a forum in which they can be heard.”