November has been a month of exploration and experimentation, but not as productive in terms of learning and teaching as past months in the ideaLab.
I don’t know if I can say attending a talk and book signing by former Newsweek Bureau Chief, AP correspondent and CNN reporter Tony Collings can be part of my official ideaLab endeavors, but I’ll say it was because he did share some insights about how the industry has changed for the good and bad. His talk at the University of Michigan’s Hatcher Graduate Library was interesting and insightful. I’ve embedded a couple of video clips.
I’ve also uploaded three podcasts from a cemetery tour in Milan in October, and our web department added a drop-down menu under the “News” category for podcasts. Every time I add a podcast, I include the label “podcast” in tags, so it will live there, on the website, permanently. We will continue to populate the category as we embark on our podcasting project in cooperation with the Saline Area Historical Society, as mentioned in a previous ideaLabHeritage post. Here’s the link to the podcasts.
Also this month, and to be honest, it’s something I just started exploring this morning, is Google Voice. If you haven’t checked out its capabilities yet, I suggest you do. It has potential, but I am still working out the bugs. My idea was to create a drop-down category on our website called Community Voices, and then posting a question or topic to discuss each month. For December — if I can work out the bugs — I’d like the category to be Holiday Messages. The idea is to have readers call my Google Voice number, state their name and share their holiday message. Google will translate that into a text file that can be shared online.
Sounds great, right? Some newspapers have a speak-out column in which they encourage readers to leave voicemail messages, instead of writing a letter to the editor, and then print those. This could serve the same purpose and provide an automatic transcript. However, the translation to text is not very good. For example, I read the following, word for word, over my phone after calling the Google Voice number that I set up:
Heritage Newspapers is putting together a Community Voices project. Every month, we will ask members of the community to call a Google Voice number and leave a recording on a particular topic or discussion point. The first category will be Holiday Wishes. Call 734-531-8774 and leave a holiday message for the community. This could be a season’s greeting, a statement of what you’re most grateful for this year or your wish for the new year. The messages will be shared on our website for everyone to hear. We will add a new category each month. So, check back on our website to view the category and then call 734-531-8774 to share your thoughts on the topic at hand. Our hope is to share the many voices that make a community and bring the community together on a particular topic.
The translation from Google was:
Hearage newspapers as putting together a community voices project. Every Month. We will ask members of the 288 to call it google voice number to leave a recording on a particular topic of discussion. The first category will be holiday wishes, call (734) 531-8774 and leave a holiday message for the community. This could be a seasons greeting. A statement of what you are most grateful for this year, or your wish for the new year. The message is will be shared on our website for everyone to here. We were adding new category each month. So check back on our website to view the category and then. Call (734) 531-8774 To share your thoughts on the topic at hand. Our hope is to share the many voices that make each me and bring that you need any together on a particular topic.
I was also hoping that Google Voice could provide a mp3 file of the voicemail message and we could share those files online as the responses. I still need to read up on it, but I don’t think that capability exists. If you know of another way of achieving this goal, please let me know.