Friday, 25 November 2011

Instagram: it's Twitter for photojournalists... previewing Masterclass 40 at MMJ


Instagram is a great iPhone social platform for photojournalists

It's like a visual version of Twitter

Like Twitter it does one thing really well. It lets you enhance and publish your stills to a community.
You follow people, hopefully they follow you, and you – and they – can comment on each others photos, and click to like them.
We looked at Instagram as one of the six smartphone apps featured here that I think are among the best on the market for journalism
The app itself is purely mobile based, so you can’t use it on a static computer.
However, like any successful social platform, apps are being created that stretch its usability
Let’s take a look at four of them, in no particular order. They’re new, and still under development, but they are worth checking out:


Instagrid creates an Instagram gallery on your computer that you can use to browse your photos and share them with  friends outside the Instagram community.
I can view as a grid or as a blog-style list
To get started you go here and enter your Instagram account name
It brings up your recently posted Instagram images. Here are mine:

You get your own url at Instagrid. Here’s mine:
The app expands the reach of Instagrid, the purely iPhone-centric app, by allowing you to invite people who don't use Instagram to subscribe to your feed via email.
I can also subscribe to the photographers whose work I like, and receive their new Instagram photos in an email every few days.
You can also create #hashtag galleries.
They say: “Instantly create a gallery of all the photos tagged with a specific #hashtag. It's a great way to keep track of a set of photos for yourself, your company, a conference or event.”
Now if I’d been careful to tag my recent photos from one or two of the locations I’ve shot I could create a good personal gallery. Sadly I wasn’t, but here’s what I got with the hashtag London:

One problem with this is that, if I have tagged my photos and want to use only them in my gallery, any other photos on Instagram tagged with the same hastag will be pulled in among mine. Instagrid tell me they are working on a filter so you can avoid this happening.
People can subscribe to my Instagrid channel if they wish. I can subscribe to as many uses as I like and get their images combined in a weekly newsletter
Here are some Instagram follows Instagrid recommends:
mikeyk founder of instagram

fashion street fashion, instagram style

nettatheninja got a job @square after posting this viral website

photojojo purveyor of camera culture

laughingsquid internet man, blogger Scott Beale

hellomuller designer of substance

dcurtis also a designer of substance

erickschonfeld writer for techcruch

threadless behind the scenes at the famous tshirt company
They also have a printing service for your pix here.


Inkstagram does what Instagrid does but, in my opinion, with a better looking interface. You log in through Instagram.
Here’s a grab of my Instagram feed as presented by Instagrid:

I get my photos presented at about twice the size they appear on my phone

I can see either my feed, my own photos, photos I’ve liked, and other options by clicking on the tabs along the top of the screen.
I can also create, customise and share hashtag albums from Instagram.
Heres one #occupylondon:

You get a url, but not a neat one using your account name. Here’s mine:
You do, however, get a nicely-designed presence on the site. Here’s mine:


Statigram also offers you a good browser-based interface, in which you can choose to view your Instagram feed, your own phones, those you've liked, popular posts, and pix from those you follow, or who follow you.
As the name suggests, it's also keen on statistics.
You get a neat public url. Here's mine:
Here's my feed:

Statigram is different in that it gives you stats on your pictures - which are the most popular, the most commented on, and so on, which makes it the most comprehensive of the four apps we're looking at:

The 'like' history, which gives you a graph that shows immediately which were the msot popular pictures and when they were taken, is really useful.
It also offers what it calls snapshots, well-presented graphics of various aspects of your life on Instagram that you can share with your instagram community.
Here's one that gives my three most popular pix:

I email those to myself from the app, then upload them into my Instagram feed. I can even put the filter of my choice on them.


Snapwidget is different from the three apps we've looked at so far because it lets you embed an Instagram photo gallery for a specific username or a hashtag on your blog or website.
They say: “It's easy. Simply fill in your username or hashtag and configure the styling options on the right.
“Then click PREVIEW to see what the widget will look like and GET CODE to get the snippet that you need to paste into your website.
You can preview what your gallery will look like:

And get the code to paste your gallery into your website:

Here’s what the embedded gallery looks like:

Next: Check out the rest of Masterclass 40

Friday, 11 November 2011

How to build a Google+ page for your journalism


This post is a preview of Masterclass 39: Building proficiency with Google+

You can find the full masterclass here
The Google+ page feature is fresh out of the box
It’s only been possible for a few days to create a professional presence on Google+
Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg immediately charactarised it as a Facebook-inspired mini-me.
There’s some truth in what he says.
But what we need to decide is whether Google+ pages enhance the platform for journalism.
And they most certainly do.
It’s dead easy to set up a Google+ page for your journalism. So what’s to lose?
If the platform tanks, you wasted 15 minutes. If it succeeds – and I think it has to – you are in at the start of a great new social mechanism.
So here is a step-by-step guide to creating your Google+ page.
First, click the logo whcih I've arrowed on the right side of your page:

Select the category (you have to decide whether you and/or your journalism fits best under such headingss as product, brand or company:

Add your info. You can link to your website at this point:

Once some whirring has taken place, you can add a tag line and a profile picture (see this module for how to customise your profile picture):

You get taken back to your page and you have this:

Here you can add information, promote and switch between using Google+ as yourself or as your page.
One thing to make clear: you now have two ways of using Google+ - as yourself or as your page - just as with Facebook you have your news feed and your page.
If you followed Masterclass 38 on building proficiency with Facebook, all of this will feel very familiar.
You can add a logo to your website to show you have a Google+ page:

Add a post:

On the right is Share the word, .. where you can tell everyone in your circles about your new page.
Then you get to pimp your profile here:

You can add text about what you do, photos and videos.
So you end up with a presence that has text about you, to which you can add photos and videos:

One frustration is that you don’t automatically have your existing circles added to your new page. This is such a miss that it must be sorted very soon. I’ll update here when it is.
Another is that using Google+ as yourself, and as you page, feel like entirely separate entities. Again, I'm sure sharing posts between the two will quickly be made easier, and I'll update here when it does.

For more on using Google+ for journalism, go here

Friday, 4 November 2011

Is Google+ deader than the digital-Dodo, or a rival to Twitter and Facebook?

The jury’s still out on Google+

Will it become the essential third social platform for journalism, alongside Twitter and Facebook?

Or will it fade, as previous, much-trumpeted Google features such as Buzz and Wave have done?

My hunch is it’s going to end up lagging third in the rank of usefulness to journalists for at least a year.

But I could be wrong. 

It may tank. 

When I checked how many of the 724 people in my circles were inactive, using the Uncircle+ app, almost a third hadn’t posted for a month.

That doesn’t look good.

So why bother with it?

Well, because I can’t see Google letting it die without a very hard fight.

Google+ is being positioned at the heart of Google’s operations. 

Google is integrating all other applications with it, in an effort to make it the essential social web-home where all is available.

Google has plenty of other apps it can integrate with it.

Reader has now been integrated, so that you can add any of the items you gathered in the Reader, from the RSS feeds we looked at in this Masterclass to your feed, and share them with your circles.

YouTube, which Google also owns, now appears as a tab to the right of your screen. Click on it and you’re asked: What do you want to play? 

Add a search term and you get a pop-up with relevant videos, plus a box asking what you’d like to play next.

And you can share the videos you watch with those in your Circles.

So, you can stay here for YouTube as well as Reader.

It follows, then, that Google+ is not just a social network: it is an effort to create a backbone for all Google services - and the full implications of that are only just becoming obvious.

As Adam Tinworth pointed out when I posted about inactive accounts on Google+: “People forget that in the early days of Twitter people would sign up and let their accounts go fallow for months. This is normal for the early stages of a new social service…”

For that reason, I believe it’s worth building our proficiency with it.

I’ll be posting a full masterclass on enhancing your use of Google+ for journalism soon. Check here for updates.