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n0tice is a community noticeboard that aims to answer the ever relevant question, "What's happening near me?" The platform, launched by the Guardian Media Group, gives users the ability to share ads, news, and events taking place within a community. Recently, the team behind n0tice opened the platform's API and released an iPhone app, offering more functionality to individuals, developers, and brands. n0tice's "open journalism toolkit" includes crowdmapping, liveblogging, and mobile publishing, among other features. We caught up with Matt McAlister, n0tice creator and director of digital strategy at the Guardian Media Group, to discuss the recent developments and potential uses for the platform.
Crowdsourcing.org: What inspired the creation of the n0tice platform? Tell us a bit about that journey.
Matt McAlister, n0tice creator: n0tice began as a Hack Day project at the Guardian in 2009. We were looking at how location works on the phone, and it was a very quick leap from that experiment to coming up with a way to make citizen journalism more interesting.
How does n0tice differentiate itself from other crowdmapping services like Ushahidi?
It shares a lot with many of the mobile crowdsourcing tools out there except that we've tried to create something that is self-sustaining and a bit more engaging in an ongoing way. We've built it as a service to help communities, publishers, brands and developers form their own openness strategy and to potentially create some new revenue streams in the form of self-serve classified advertising. We've posted examples of ideas of how these different customers could use n0tice on the partner web site.
What are your suggestions to those looking to run a n0tice board effectively?
There are a few different approaches that we've seen working. One of the easy ways to get started is to create a noticeboard focused on collecting events from the community. Formby Village, The Northerner blog and several others have used n0tice as an open space which they then feed into their current web site as a "What's On" page. We've written about how to do this. Once that kind of pattern starts to work it becomes easier to consider ways to curate a more robust experience. A good example of that is the Bridport noticeboard.
In your opinion, what is the most innovative or interesting way that someone has used the platform?
I think the most interesting and novel use of n0tice we've seen so far is a brand partnership with National Book Tokens. The client, in this case, wanted to build something that encouraged people to reacquaint themselves with their local bookshop. So, in addition to creating a noticeboard for open contributions they built an interactive map showing activity happening around the UK.
The project creates a really nice sense of what's happening near you, but it also creates context with the wider community at a national level. It feels very alive and engaging. And it blends the capabilities of the n0tice platform with the resources both the publisher and the brand can offer in a very visually powerful way.
How does using n0tice help local businesses market their products?
Local businesses will hopefully find the on-the-ground connection with people really useful, and the distributed aspect of the platform will make it even more compelling. Being present in spaces where people spend their time is very important, but n0tice can make it easy to be part of the conversation, too. Sharing things that are happening near you is a great way to connect with local communities.
How successful has advertising been on the platform? If you can share some figures, we’re very curious to hear what your revenue stream has been like and how it continues to progress.
We're in very early days still, as the platform was only revealed publicly a couple of months ago. The partner services and iPhone app are only a few weeks old. That said, the brand partnerships we've done and plan to do are opening up new revenue streams now that we didn't plan to tackle yet. We can see many ways we can help people make money and therefore create sustainability for the business. The goal is to help others make money using n0tice and to take a percentage of those new revenue streams. For example, we will share 85% of the advertising revenue any noticeboard owner earns on their noticeboard for the premium classified listings. Anyone can post an ad for free, but we then charge for positioning on n0tice.
Tell us a bit about your recently launched n0tice iPhone application. What can you do with it? What are your goals for the app?
The primary intention of the iPhone app is to make it possible to see and share what's happening near you. We wanted to take the initial use case for n0tice and make it really simple and fun to participate. But as a result of having developing a robust API from the start we're seeing people using it not only for citizen journalism but also for things like liveblogging and photo sharing. We will continue evolving the app around this premise with the intention of building a network of interesting activity happening near you.
What improvements or changes do you foresee or hope to implement in the near future? How much does user input affect your decisions?
We're huge fans of prioritizing development based on user requests. We do this constantly. In fact, we barely maintain a feature list or a 'backlog'. The community is very, very helpful and friendly. They want us to help them, and we respond as fast as we can to their requests. The developers on the project are given a lot of room to invent as they go along. The only guidance they are given, for the most part, is on big goals and direction of travel.
What should we know about n0tice that we didn’t ask above?
It's worth mentioning that anyone with a WordPress web site could couple n0tice with it. I can imagine a lot of folks using n0tice as the open, user-generated side of their business and then cherrypicking their favorite posts and feeding those directly into WordPress using the API. We've been playing around with this idea and demonstrating how it could work on a test site. I've written an explanation of how it works.