Launched: a First Look…

On: November 11, 2008
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About Marijn de Vries Hoogerwerff
Marijn de Vries Hoogerwerff is a New Media theorist, Web researcher and Internet entrepreneur. In 1999 he started working as IT professional at the broadband Internet Service Provider @home (a franchise of the ISP and search engine company Excite@Home). After working here for over eight years he decided to pursue a study in New Media at the University of Amsterdam. During this study he has been an active member of the Digital Methods Initiative (DMI) research group, working together in a strong team of designers, programmers and theorists to develop new Web-specific methods and tools for doing online research and has written in depth about Internet censorship research, code consciousness and cyber-cosmopolitanism. Next to several stand-alone projects he also started up CYBERLIFE, focusing on building Web-applications, sites and tools, Web hosting and doing Web research. After receiving his Master degree in New Media he continued his contributions to the DMI, has helped organize the Society of the Query conference for the Institute of Network Cultures and has been a thesis supervisor at the University of Applied Sciences (HvA) for Interactive Media. His current company, nochii BV, focusses on utilizing theoretical knowledge and practical experience to help companies get a better understanding about the Web, their network and the space they occupy and its relation to the offline. He holds the strong believe that the Web, both as infrastructure and as concept, can aid in dealing with the increasing complexity of the world (both online as offline) and the relating problematics.


How, why, where and when do traditional press write about new media and how can we critically look at those articles? This week a great new blog called metareporter has launched, made just to answer those questions. The blog is the result of a project of the 3rd year New Media students of the University of Amsterdam who have been archiving and analysing New Media news articles found in the most read regional and national newspapers and news sites of the Netherlands. Every year a group of new students will devote a complete semester in continuing the project, adding new articles to the archive and writing critical post about some of these articles.

Next to the critical reviews and the archiving of news articles on New Media, the blog also has some interesting functionalities. On the left side, a list is shown displaying the different sources available in the database, orders by their number of New Media related articles. At first glimpse one can already get an idea of which of these sources dedicate the most on writing about New Media, what type of article is it (based on size) and how many of them have been analysed by metareporter. On the right side a particularly fancy functionality has been implemented. Here on can do a faceted search by selecting and de-selecting the different categories resulting in an ordered taglist displaying the keywords for the chosen selections/query. In the middle, the latest additions of analysed news articles are shown. Although a search option on a blog is nothing new, on many blogs it ofter results in frustration. On metareporter however, it at least gives the impression of giving what is expected.

Though the blog is just in its early stages and some minor design issues still need to be resolved, it already is a great addition to what is now available on the web. Many of us have read articles in newspapers wishing for some more insight or the raising of some real critical questions. The one-to-many nature of traditional newspapers however simply do not offer a great range of possibilities for feedback and contemplation by 3rd party journalists or readers. Although more and more news sources are turning to the web, there are still many that have not made this step. Often the one’s taking the jump onto the web, try to limit the risks of loosing their capital by making registration mandatory, sometimes even with a subscription fee. By a great display of manual labour, metareporter takes a step in overcoming the obstacles presented by offline physical newspaper by writing summaries of those articles. By not including the original article they overcome the problem of intellectual property. Although being a non-commercial blog of university students will probably shelter them from intellectual property issues, the online availability of content might not bring smile on all faces. Having an archive of actual articles might be the optimal thing to have but I believe metareporter have found a nice way of circumventing this problem by adding extra layers of information to those articles and providing links to the original source. It is a metaview on new media in the dutch news and who knows, it might even be appreciated.

I see this blog as a great possibility for doing research and hope not only that the archive will keep growing and the critical post will continue to give more insight in news stories, but also that it will become a platform on which users will engage in a fruitful and interesting conversation about the articles an reviews on the blog.

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