The Future of The Appalachian Independent

I’ve mentioned here a few times before that I am involved in a local non-profit internet-based news outlet.  My role as a Technical Intern is to assist the Senior Tech staff in implementing, securing and moving new features out for the site.

Recently, we’ve been moving ahead with some new plans, and are going to introduce some new community-based features for AppIndie in the near future.  I’d like to talk about just a few of these today.

Comments
The first, and simplest new addition to the newspaper will be the ability to comment directly on stories.  Just as you would see in any other blog.

At this point, we don’t have any kind of dedicated staff to sit and monitor these comments all day long, so we’re going to have to limit them to Registered Users for the time being.  We really don’t want to have to deal with the kind of spam we see here at Worthless Genius.

This allows us to begin to fulfill the first part of our Mission Statement:

We Value:

  • The active involvement of citizens in the democratic process
  • The richness that results from sharing diverse viewpoints and thought provoking analysis

We are really looking forward to being able to solicit that kind of feedback from our community.  This is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of what the community is going to be able to do to interact with our site.

Up until this point, it has been the core writing staff and a few citizen journalists releasing the bulk of the content for the site.  I think we would all like to see that change to a point where submissions can be made and feedback provided, all through the community of users.

Workshops
The next thing we would like to do to introduce the local community to our online publication is to have some workshops involving ideas on how to write and submit materials for AppIndie.

These will be taking place in the not-too-distant future, and the AppIndie homepage will be featuring an announcement with dates and locations.  I would encourage anyone who is here in Western Maryland or the surrounding areas to show up and have a good time learning about how our organization works, and what you can do to help.

Social Media (in the future)
Because you can’t survive in this world without a bit of social media exposure, our next immediate steps will be the integration and full-fledged use of social media to spread the word.  We are currently working on these strategies to get things moving, and some of them have not been fully implemented yet.

Though there are 75 registered members already of AppIndie, we feel like the messages we are sending about the open involvement of the community in the news making process is important enough to go out there and put ourselves out to the masses.

We are currently beginning the use of a few accounts in “modern” communities to help spread the word:

  • Flickr – View our photostream, which will be used in the future for our articles and community discussion boards.  Currently there are no photos posted yet.
  • Twitter – Follow our Twitter account for updates on the day-to-day happenings, news article releases and other community information.
  • YouTube – We will be using YouTube as a means to release video updates, elicit video feedback, and also other media–such as student films–that our community should be aware of.
  • Digg – We will be integrating our articles with the social news site Digg.com.  This will be an opt-in process for our writers, and will give the opportunity for our readers to spread the word to millions of potentially interested parties.
  • Facebook Group – This hasn’t been implemented yet, but we would like to start a Facebook Group in order to get ourselves out there, and have members show that they are indeed followers of AppIndie.

The common goals of all of these proposed modern media accounts will be to spread the word, as well as make things easier for those citizen journalists we would like to have come and contribute to our site.

Beyond
While the previously mentioned items are on a time scale of a week to two weeks, we are working on even new exciting features to begin to better service the local community.

A barter board, forums, interactive community discussions and many more features are in stock for the future of AppIndie.

Though I don’t know a definite timeline for this second round of new features, I can expect to see them very soon, and be sure that I will be announcing them here and everywhere else I am visible on the web.

There are two things that I’m currently looking at on the side of what the main goals are for the future of AppIndie.  I haven’t discussed this stuff with the core members, but plan on doing so when the time is right, and right around the time that we get ready to roll out the second round of features.  Suffice it to say that it will be exciting, and of course, awesome.

Stay tuned here for more information as it develops, or go and sign up for an AppIndie account and get ready to get involved!