I recently described how I have started writing for the B44 hyperlocal blog, with a post about election leaflets:
After posting that, I realised that it fitted will with an idea I’ve been mulling over for some time: the syndication of hyperlocal blog content, with, critically, scope for customisation to suit various local audiences.
I mentioned on Twitter that my post could be reused, and re-written , under a CC-BY-NC-SA license. In other words, that’s Creative Commons, attribution (“BY“) required, Non-Commercial, Share-Alike.
Note how she changed the fourth paragraph to refer to the Stoke-on Trent North wards. For good measure, she also reused my post on the ‘Social Stoke’ blog, but due to an accident of electoral geography, without needing further changes:
To my mind, this exercise raises several questions.
Primarily, do hyperlocal bloggers want to use content like this?
There’s certainly a lot of satisfaction to be had by seeing one’s own work published; is there less satisfaction when adapting something written by someone else? Does that matter? Is that why Philip wrote additional paragraphs? Doesn’t he have enough to do?
Why didn’t more hyperlocal bloggers reuse my post?
Was it insufficiently interesting, or badly written? Surely not! Perhaps they didn’t know about it?
Do hyperlocal blog readers mind seeing re-used content?
I’d suggest not — I contend that many such readers only read one hyperlocal blog. It’s only those of us fascinated by the hyperlocal blogging phenomenon who would be reading blogs about Great Barr (B44), Burslem and Lichfield. And providing there is openness about the source, and what’s been done, where’s the problem?
How can we do this better?
How can we let hyperlocal bloggers know when suitable content is available? Can we automate the process? Can, and should, we clearly delineate the parts which are intended to be localised? Can we find some way to export, from the original post, the tags, so that re-users can modify them? Can we export whole posts (retaining HTML markup) from one WordPress bog (be it wordpress.com or a self-hosted wordpress.org installation) and have it imported into another (ditto)? What about other platforms?
What license should be used?
CC-BY-NC-SA was perhaps too restrictive; on the other hand, can this model be monetised? Is there sufficient content of this type to make that worthwhile? Would press officers start to supply pre-written content? Would that be a good thing, or bad?
As usual, your comments — especially, but not only, if you’re a hyperlocal blogger — would be welcome. And you’re still welcome to reuse my post.
Clare and Philip are both good friends. Please read my comments about them as the good-natured teasing they are. I trust they’ll forgive them, and my using them as unwitting guinea-pigs.
Read about my new freelance career as an advisor on on-line communities and related issues.