This month’s Thing has been borrowed and modified from Boston Public Library’s Learning for Life Online program.
Many of you are quite social online, on places like Facebook, Twitter, FriendFeed, or elsewhere. And, you may also visit online news sites, like CNN, Yahoo News or your local news outlets. But, did you know that there are places on the internet that have combined these social and news aspects into one site?
For this month’s Thing, we will explore social news sites, places where users – anyone in the world – can post a news story that they’ve found online and share it. Then, other users get to vote on that story, making it appear higher or lower on the list of news items. In this way, the reading community decides what is more interesting or relevant. The same goes for any comments on a story – they can be voted up and down, depending on how interesting they are or what they contribute to the conversation.
Even on the web, major news outlets like newspapers and television news programs can only cover so much, and they don’t often point to all the fun and interesting things in blog posts, on image sites, and in little-known corners of the internet. Social news sites show that by distributing the work among millions of readers (otherwise known as crowdsourcing), much more information can be found and shared than if a single organization tries to do it all by themselves.
Digg was the first general social news site to be well-known beyond the computer industry. It was also one of the first to introduce the “voting” feature. Digg now categorizes submissions into Top Stories, Popular and Upcoming. Read more in the Digg FAQ.
Reddit (say the name out loud to get the joke) has been around nearly as long as Digg, and it still has the very personal feel it had at the beginning. Check out the Reddit Frequently Asked Questions about how the site works and how you can contribute. Also, check out Reddit 101 for the basics. For our particular needs, there is a subreddit community for Libraries. And a very good tutorial specifically for Reddit for Librarians.
Slashdot was one of the first social news sites, focused mainly on science and technology. It’s still one of the go-to places for geeks to get their news, and the conversation in the comments is usually as good or better than the posts. Slashdot FAQ.
Fark is a social news site with the motto: “We don’t make news. We mock it.” Try Fark out if you’re a fan of sarcastic humor and weird news. Learn more in Fark Frequently Asked Questions.
Now Public is a website for citizen journalists – everyday folks who actively try to find news near them and report it, especially when it doesn’t appear on big media like newspapers and television. Now Public Frequently Asked Questions.
Newsvine was originally focused on political news, but has expanded to include any sort of news from around the world. Check out the Getting Started section of the Newsvine Knowledge Base and the Quick Tour.
A feed of articles on social news from Mashable
Digg.com and Socially-Driven Authority
How News Consumption is Shifting to the Personalized Social News Stream
- Explore the social news sites above, and create an account on one or two of them.
- Search for topics of interest to you personally, or that would be of interest to librarians.
- Interact with your chosen site (or sites). Post a story you want to share, vote on other stories posted, or comment on stories posted.
- Create a blog post about your experience. How could you use these sites personally or professionally? How could your library users or your library itself use these sites? If you explored more than one site, how do they compare to each other? Did you find one site better suited to personal research and another one better for professional?