All the rage in Web publishing these days centers on what's known as "user-generated content (UGC)."
UGC takes several forms: Blogs written by readers; comments posted on stories and forums; and photos and video shot by audience members and posted online.
Today, provided all goes as planned (and you know it almost always does where computer-related matters are concerned) the Reflector launches an initiative in an attempt to capitalize on this growing trend and better leverage our community's assets to enhance the news report we provide our audience.
On norwalkreflector.com's homepage today you'll notice a change. Gone are the links to Associated Press video and stories which were kind of cool but almost nobody ever clicked on. In their place is a promotional ad and link to what we are calling "ReflectorCam 2.0."
All Reflector readers are familiar with ReflectorCam a page in the print edition we publish on Wednesdays that features photos from around the community submitted by our readers. The initiative launched today brings ReflectorCam into the 21st century.
ReflectorCam 2.0 allows anyone with a digital camera and access to a computer to easily and painlessly post a photograph, or a dozen, they've taken to the Reflector's Web site. Within minutes of little Amber blowing out the candles on her 5th birthday cake, her parents could have photos of event posted on the Reflector's Web site for friends and family to view.
The only requirement for using ReflectorCam 2.0 is that you register your name, e-mail address, etc. with us. We will not provide any of this information to any third party.
ReflectorCam 2.0 will have basically two sides. The first, called "We Spotted," will be photos taken by members of the Reflector staff. These will be from sporting events, government meetings and other events we normally cover. What's great about this is that in the print edition, we are typically only able to print one photo two tops to accompany a story we cover. On ReflectorCam 2.0, we can publish as many photos as we like.
The other part, "We Spotted," is the one that I'm sure will be the most popular. This is where you will be able to post and view your own photos. No longer will you have to rely on those snooty Reflector staffers to provide coverage of your event.
Seriously, while we strive to cover everything we can, our staff is limited. As a result, there are many, many things that happen in our community that are important to people that we are simply unable to send a staff member.
A good example is junior high sports. It takes all of our resources to cover the high school sporting events in and around Norwalk, let along any of the other myriad other events. Now, any junior high, Lefty Grove, or American Legion parent, coach or player can log on and download as many photos from your game as you like.
And it's not just limited to sports. Any club or organization can post photos and descriptions of the events they stage.
As an added benefit, thanks to our association with a company called "MyCapture," you will be able to purchase a hard copy of any photo posted on the "We Spotted" side of ReflectorCam 2.0. You can also get it printed on a plaque, poster or coffee cup simply by clicking your mouse.
Unfortunately, this service will not be available on the "You Spotted" side because our attorneys could not figure out how to give us rights to the material.
There it is. So get out those cameras, make sure your batteries are charged and join the communications revolution.