Philadelphia Metropolis

Metropolis - Philadelphia News and Journalism

Metrop­o­lis is a “news, analy­sis and com­men­tary” site from vet­er­an Philadel­phia reporter Tom Fer­rick (Wikipedia). An alum of The Philadel­phia Inquir­er, Tom’s spent the last half-dozen years talk­ing to every­one who will lis­ten about the future of print and Philly news. He’s done talk­ing and is show­ing what can be done on a bud­get bud­get. From “This is Metrop­o­lis,” the lead article:

Local news­pa­pers, TV and radio sta­tions are retreat­ing from in-depth cov­er­age of region­al news either due to eco­nom­ic or audi­ence considerations.

The retreat has been grad­ual, but no one expects it to stop. The com­pa­ny that owns the region’s largest news­pa­pers — the Inquir­er and Dai­ly News — is in bank­rupt­cy. The size of the edi­to­r­i­al staffs at the papers con­tin­ues to shrink. The prog­no­sis for metro dailies here and else­where is not good. The jour­nal­ism prac­ticed by these papers is still robust, but the eco­nom­ic mod­el that has sus­tained it is erod­ing. If these tra­di­tion­al sources of news fal­ter or fail what will take their place?

The site was built in Mov­able Type. The most promi­nent fea­ture is the slideshow dis­play of fea­tured arti­cles. Tom has seen a sim­i­lar effect on anoth­er jour­nal­ism site and a search found the “Slid­ing Hor­i­zon­tal Ban­ner Rota­tor” at Active Den, a great site to pur­chase pre-built Flash files. Mov­able Type entries are out­fit­ted with cus­tom fields to enter images and links. Mov­able Type then cre­ates a cus­tom XML file for the “Main Sto­ries” feed, which is then picked up and dis­played by the Flash ban­ner. In addi­tion, the site uses Google Adsense to pro­vide income.

Vis­it: Philadel­phia Metropolis

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Cornerstone Fellowship

Cornerstone FellowshipCor­ner­stone is a rel­a­tive­ly new church plant in Smithville, Atlantic Coun­ty, New Jer­sey. They’re site is a sim­ple design built in Mov­able Type using off-the-shelf tem­plates to keep the bud­get down. The most excit­ing part of the site is the pod­cast ser­mons and the abil­i­ty to ask Bible ques­tions and make prayer requests from the home­page. I’m most hap­py to see the church using the site and updat­ing it regularly!

Pas­tor Fred Schwenger also has a new local con­nec­tion: he and a part­ner have just opened Supe­ri­or Auto­mo­tive here in Ham­mon­ton at 880 S White Horse Pike! 

Vis­it: Cor​ner​stone​Fel​low​shipOn​line​.com

Salem County Special Services School District

Daretown School Home - Daretown SchoolThe mis­sion of the Salem Coun­ty Spe­cial Ser­vices School Dis­trict, a region­al edu­ca­tion­al ser­vice agency, is to pro­vide high qual­i­ty, cost-effective pro­grams and ser­vices to the schools and dis­tricts of Salem Coun­ty and Cum­ber­land Coun­ty, New Jer­sey. This site built with what are for me fair­ly gener­ic tools: Mov­able Type as CMS, with Flickr inter­gra­tion. The design style sheet was built from scratch using CSS.

Vis­it: Scsssd​.org

Health E Retailers

A site put togeth­er by two con­sul­tants to the nat­ur­al food indus­try. All pages were editable by a Mov­able Type pow­ered con­tent man­age­ment sys­tem. A notable fea­ture was a e-commerce sub­scrip­tion func­tion with pri­vate log-in pages. This con­sul­tan­cy busi­ness was closed in May 2008 and the site was tak­en down.

I am the King of Folksonomy

I just relaunched my per­son­al blog a few days ago, mov­ing it from non​vi​o​lence​.org/​m​a​r​t​ink to quak​er​ran​ter​.org. I plan to write a whole big piece about it in the near future. But my access logs just picked up some­thing amazing.

impor­tant part of the redesign was an auto­mat­ic key­word generator.
Posts were run through a script that auto­mat­i­cal­ly pulled out keywords
from the text. My 2003 arti­cle, Going all the way with Mov­able Type gen­er­at­ed the fol­low­ing tags, which appear as links after the post:

Fol­low­ing the links takes you to similarly-tagged arti­cles. At least
that’s the con­ceit. When you fol­low a tag’s link you’re sim­ply doing a
site search for that key­word. A lit­tle htac­cess rewrite mag­ic is making
the result look like it’s a sta­t­ic cat­e­go­ry page.

“Fine and well” you’re think­ing, “big deal.” Well, here’s what’s
cool. There are 225 entries on the Quak­er­Ran­ter blog. Google’s just
gone through and indexed the site and is now claim­ing it con­tains 1300 pages.
Each tag is being indexed as its own page. Every time I men­tion any
inter­est­ing term, it becomes a page that Google index­es and deliv­ers to
its searchers.

Which brings us to today’s cool piece from the access logs. In
Decem­ber of 2004 a rather inno­cent post on Quak­er Ranter became the
cen­ter of a mini-whirlwind on the polit­i­cal blogs when it mentioned
that I had got­ten a call from a CBS News pub­li­cist inter­est­ed in Non​vi​o​lence​.org.
All polit­i­cal blogs get pub­lic­i­ty calls from news and opin­ion think
tanks try­ing to sug­gest (or plant) sto­ries but no one’s sup­posed to
talk about it. I only men­tioned it because it was so unusu­al. One of
the blogs denounc­ing the lib­er­al con­spir­a­cy my post revealed was the
some­what slimy Lit­tle Green Foot­balls. After a few weeks the
denun­ci­a­tions died down. 

But this morn­ing, some­one looked up lit­tle­green­foot­balls in Google and came to my site. Because of my auto­mat­ic key­word gen­er­a­tor, tags, and static-loooking links, I’m now the num­ber two entry, on two three-year old posts, now relo­cat­ed to a days old quak​er​ran​ter​.org. Cool. 

This mix­ing and match­ing of con­tent and rich manip­u­la­tion of data is some­times lumped togeth­er in the cool bu zzphrase folk­son­o­my.
Note that none of what I’ve done is a trick­ing of Google. Every tag is
real­ly going to a page with that con­tent. These are “nat­ur­al” and
“organ­ic” search results in the lin­go of SEO. I’m just pre­sent­ing my infor­ma­tion in mul­ti­ple for­mats that appeal that the widest array of audiences.

For what it’s worth, I don’t think I deserve #2 sta­tus for
“lit­tle­green­foot­balls” and I don’t think Google will keep it there for
long. It’s a bit odd that they have ele­vat­ed that par­tic­u­lar term so
high and no oth­ers tags seem so stratospheric.

Positive Results:

As of Feb­ru­ary 2007, Google index­es 3,540 pages
on Quak​er​Ran​ter​.org, a blog of only 239 posts. In Decem­ber 2006 30% of
my Google vis­its were to one of the “tags” page. Recon­fig­ur­ing the blog
in this kind of tag-intensive way has more than dou­bled search engines
vis­its, again in a very nat­ur­al and organ­ic way. Adding tags has simply
made what I’ve writ­ten more acces­si­ble to search engines. Very cool.

Negative Ramifications:

Short­ly after installing this new sys­tem, my servers started
peri­od­i­cal­ly crash­ing (about once/week). The prob­lem would be multiple
MT-Search process­es over­load­ing the memory. 

My guess is that a search engine spi­der came along and started
index­ing all of the tags. Each link ini­ti­at­ed a search query in Movable
Type. The built-in search for Mov­able Type is just not able to handle
this vol­ume of traffic.

I installed Fast Search to solve the prob­lem (tip of the hat to Al-Muhajabah). It took awhile: Fast Search required a MySQL upgrade at my host. After that I need­ed to install these plu­g­in fix­es.
Then it was fine-tuning the htac­cess files. It was been more work than
I ini­tial­ly expect­ed and the tag results now for­ward to a fun­ny URL that Google doesn’t love as much.


Pro­fes­sion­al jour­nal­ist James Maguire came to me with an exist­ing site built in Mov­able Type. I’ll redesigned the nav­i­ga­tion, cre­at­ing cus­tomized side­bars that changed accord­ing to the cat­e­go­ry. He’s done great stuff with his site and it’s well worth look­ing through. Favorites of mine: his video appear­ances on talk shows and his 100 Books Worth Read­ing list.

Vis­it: James Maguire Online.

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