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Australian Broadcasting Corporation's Innovation division

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The ABC has a message for Australians: Go Fact Yourself.

@GoFactYrself is a new experiment in social media storytelling from ABC Innovation.

We’ll be producing shareable news content for a range of platforms and smart devices over the next few weeks - all in an effort to make our news services more accessible.

In other words, we’re going to bring the news to you!

We’ll be infiltrating your favourite social media networks, including Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Instagram with special material made only for our online audiences.

It’s all about meeting you where you’re already scrolling, and dropping in up-to-date ‘newsli bars’ for you to snack on.

@GoFactYrself Interactive

We want to give you the information you want, not just the information we think you might like.

If you have a burning question you want more info on, then message us and we’ll get you the answers!

It’s all about being interactive with you - our audience!

Follow us on Twitter and Instagram, or like us on Facebook for the latest Go Fact Yourself content!


The experiment will continue until the end of September to assess the ways the ABC can provide news services to demographics that are not necessarily engaged with traditional news outlets.

The lessons we learn will be used to advise Innovation about the online dissemination of news information for future projects within the ABC.


Penelope Hogan, Digital Networks Coordinator @ ABC Innovation

Live video interviews with key ABC personalities: Dr Karl, Todd Sampson, Zan Rowe, Stella Young and Jimmy Giggle were broadcast on the internet during Innovation’s trial of ‘hangouts’ over the past six months.

Hangouts on Air is a social video tool which enables anyone with a camera and internet enabled device (desktop or mobile) to stream a live discussion or performance to the world via YouTube. The live stream can have up to ten participants in up to ten different locations, anywhere in the world.

Hangouts have been used by the likes of Barack Obama, the Dalai Lama, the Muppets, the BBC and the Huffington Post. We were interested in experimenting with Hangouts because they offer a light-weight production tool for online broadcast and social media engagement.

The trial was run in conjunction with ABC Guest Host, a cross-platform initiative where ABC personalities guest-curate a section of the ABC Homepage. The objective of each hangout was to give audiences a chance to get to know their favourite personalities in a live video Q&A, with questions submitted on Facebook, Twitter and Google+.

While the visual aesthetic of a hangout is not quite as polished as broadcast TV, the advantages are the low cost and the ability to have up to ten cameras on ten different locations, in a live continuous stream – a virtual town square. After the live broadcast the hangout video is posted onto YouTube and can be shared online and on social media.

Unlike a traditional multi-camera interview, Hangouts look similar to a Skype chat. For the trial, we used two cameras, which meant two ‘windows’ one shared by the interview subject and a moderator and a second window to be occupied by an additional presenter who read out questions from social media.

You can watch the hangouts here.

We ran a series of rigorous tests before broadcasting the first real live hangout from the ABC. We tested everything from the internet connection to the picture, lighting, backdrop, microphone setup and interaction between the two cameras before we were ready to broadcast live.

The first hangout featured Dr Karl for Science week with triplej’s Zan Rowe as moderator with audience questions from Facebook, Twitter and Google+. There were over 50 questions submitted for the live interview and the hangout video continues to attract plays long after the broadcast date.

The hangouts were broadcast from the Innovation offices in Sydney and Melbourne, with the exception of a special Giggle and Hoot hangout with Annabel Crabb and News24’s Kumi Tagutchi. Jimmy Giggle and the owls sang songs and answered live audience questions from the Giggle and Hoot set. Giggle and Hoot fans submitted questions for Jimmy Giggle such as ‘What’s your favourite colour?’ (orange), ‘What’s it like to have owls as friends?’ and more.

After this initial trial, Innovation plans to continue exploring possible uses for hangouts and other social video tools. There are some very exciting possibilities not just for interviews, but for capturing live ‘behind the scenes’ footage. Watch this space.

Penelope Hogan is our resident social video geek. You follow her adventures on Twitter via @Penelope_Lane.

Team @ Innovation

Innovation has won two awards at last night’s AIMIA Awards - Australia’s premier digital media prize. 

The team also conceived, prototyped and co-produced another submission, with Innovation contributing to four of the five prizes won by the ABC

The Opera House Project was awarded Most Innovative Digital Product or Service in Content Innovation and the ABC Mobile Flagship App was awarded the Best of Smartphone, Publisher.

The ABC as a whole won five AIMIAs, with the iview team picking up Best of Website and Online Service, Entertainment.

The ABC4Kids team won both Best of Tablet, Entertainment and Overall Best of Tablet for the ABC4Kids Play School Play Time apps. The Play Time app was a co-production with ABC Kids Multiplatform.  

AIMIA is the peak industry body for digital in Australia. The Awards showcase creativity and cutting edge work in digital content, digital services and online and mobile applications and we are chuffed to be again included in this club.

Big thanks to AIMIA, our friends and colleagues in the ABC who worked on these projects and, importantly, the audience for enjoying and supporting these products because they were made for you.

Don’t have these apps? Check out our mobile page to find out more and learn how to download them for your device. Also drop us a note on Twitter and tell us how we can make them even better.

imageTeam @ Innovation

For our very first post of 2014 - don’t be judgemental we’ve been very busy creating your digital future - we thought we’d share some timeless wisdom on how to live a better life.

While there is nothing in this hand-drawn compendium of quotations from such high-minded folks as Albert Camus, Simone de Beauvour, Henry James and Leo Tolstoy that would have helped us post sooner, it has certainly given us food for thought and sustenance for the soul.

Thanks to Maria Popova at Brain Pickings for alerting us to this excellent book. If you haven’t visited her Explore Tumblr do check it out.

What’s the best advice for living a better life that you’ve heard? Tweet the team via @ABCinnovation or feel free to Ask Us A Question about this or anything else right here on Tumblr.

Team @ Innovation

It has been a remarkable year in Innovation and the time has come for us to power down our devices and reboot our systems to prepare for another extraordinary year in 2014.

To this end we’ll be taking a short break from posting from now until late January but before we do, we wanted to thank you for your ideas, support and feedback in the past twelve months.

We have come a long way this year but there is always more to do. So stay tuned here and on Twitter for the latest news and conversation from our team and across the world of innovation and technology.

And as a small “thank you,” enjoy this look back at the year in six minutes from our friends at ABC News Online.

Thanks again and have a wonderful holiday season.


Cat Paw Double Swipe … Our friends at ABC News have decided to be a little ‘meme’ to Prime Minister Kevin Rudd. Photo: Screen capture.

If we know anything about our followers on Tumblr it’s that you love cats, GIFs and Kylie Minogue,
perhaps not the last one.

As we share your loves and are in the midst of a Federal Election, we thought we’d share this wonderful piece of work from our colleagues in News.

At the unveiling of his navy shipbuilding plans yesterday, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd showed he was a very ‘handy’ fellow, using at least 16 different gestures during the brief press conference.

News decided to capture these gestures in GIF form and we cannot thank them enough.

Check it out on ABC News Online and follow @abcnews for the latest information from The Hustings. 


Google is taking to the air. The online giant has announced plans to test a network of stratosphere-wandering balloons intended to provide Internet access to the two-thirds of humanity who still can’t log on to the Web.

The solar-powered balloons transmit signals to each other high in the sky, signals which eventually find their way to a user’s “Internet antenna” on the Earth below. The balloons simply drift with the winds—algorithms help the balloons rise or fall into the wind pattern that will take them where they need to go.

And they said this Internet thing would never take off …


Times have changed, but much has remained the same … Photo by writer on Instagram.

Neil Varcoe, Social Media Lead @ the Australian Broadcasting Corporation based in Innovation

Breaking news is broken, and Twitter looks guilty. I was in New York for a social media summit at the New York Times, surrounded by some of the best and brightest social media journalists and news leaders from around the globe when news of the Boston Marathon bombings was unfolding. 

While online current affairs and culture magazine Slate were telling people to go into a self-imposed exile to avoid the “cul-de-sacs and dark alleys of misinformation” contained in the breaking news about Boston on cable television and on Twitter, a panel was hastily put together to examine the main problems of breaking news in 2013, and to call for solutions. 

For those of you who accepted the advice from Slate and avoided the swirling vortex of misreporting on traditional and new media, here is a recap in 140 characters or less:


Graphic created using

Claire Wardle of Storyful, a news agency that verifies social media content for clients including The New York Times and here at the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) chaired the session. Panellists included Andrew Hawken (Head of Digital at Sky News), Liz Heron (Director of Social Media and Engagement at the Wall Street Journal) and Lisa Tozzi, an editor at the New York Times who directed The Lede blog, which provided real-time coverage of the bombings. Tozzi, it was announced in the days after, will start a new role on May 14 as News Director at Buzzfeed – a prolific social news site more often associated with cat memes than breaking news coverage - another sure sign the traditional media model has been recast.

Intent on making the best use of the specific expertise in the room to provide meaningful solutions, we broke off into small groups to pull apart the critical failures of fact in the reporting of Boston, and the noise in the room rose to a steady hum as passionate media types set the cracks.

A range of solutions were tabled from editable tweets and verification task forces to the attractive but impractical idea of applying a media credit ratings system much like Moody’s or Fitch.

Like sixth graders at their first spelling bee, typically cocksure journalists walked with apprehension to the microphone to announce their conclusions, voices soft with doubt.

While the ideas were sound and will be taken to the relevant social media platforms, some of which were represented in the audience, one idea rose above all others in my mind. 

One conference goer swaggered brassily to the microphone and declared: “Don’t tweet unless you have something to say.” This was accompanied by silence, then another elegant solution: “Don’t report rumour or speculation.”

Sitting in the newly-created TimesCenter in the shadow of the New York Times, the now famous words that have adorned the front page of the The Grey Lady for some 116 years - “All the news that’s fit to print” - took hold in my ear. 

The paper and the media landscape have evolved beyond recognition. One thing that remains true is the need to check the veracity of information to ensure it’s ‘fit’ for publication, which includes Twitter.

If you do not trust the information, then wait. When journalists get it wrong, and they will, they should correct the record, whether by a retraction in the newspaper, an on-air apology, an online update or in the not-too-distant-future an ‘editable tweet.’ Many media organisations both in the United States and here in Australia failed to do any of these in the days that followed the bombings.

When you boil it down, blaming social media for journalists and media organisations getting it wrong is like yelling at the head printer for a mistake carried down from the newsroom floor. And I think we deserve better than that, don’t you?

Neil Varcoe is a social media specialist and journalist who prefers to tweet the facts right, rather than tweet right now.

Would you like to catch up on the conversation from Social Media Summit? Read Neil’s Storify of the best tweets from the conference. 


“Second term, you need a burst of new energy, try some new things. And my team and I talked about it. We were willing to try anything. So we borrowed one of Michelle’s tricks.” — President Obama at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner.
Watch the video.

Our endless hours posting and reblogging on Tumblr have finally paid off. Welcome to Tumblr, Mr. President.


“Second term, you need a burst of new energy, try some new things. And my team and I talked about it. We were willing to try anything. So we borrowed one of Michelle’s tricks.” — President Obama at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner.

Watch the video.

Our endless hours posting and reblogging on Tumblr have finally paid off. Welcome to Tumblr, Mr. President.

"Any struggle worth fighting for is both a march and a dance:" See what has become of the social-media-powered campaign that made the world roar, then seemingly fell silent.


Kony 2012, One Year Later

After its explosion onto the world stage and subsequent hard crash back to Earth, the organization is still trying to fix problems in Uganda—just a little more quietly.

Read the full story Kony 2012, One Year Later.

Posts I Liked on Tumblr