Canadian newspaper readers map their favourite sledge sites with n0ticePosted: December 11, 2012
One of Canada’s biggest city newspapers has turned to n0tice for help with a very Canadian issue – sledging. I asked features editor Tom Babin to tell us about the crowdmapping project that’s underway at http://calgarysledding.n0tice.com.
Q. First, could you tell us a little about the Calgary Herald?
A. The Calgary Herald is the major metro daily newspaper of Calgary, a city of a million people on the Canadian prairies. The paper has been around since 1883, and in the last number of years, our whole operation, like most newspapers, has been shifting its focus onto the Web. We’re the biggest media site in the city, and one of the biggest metro newspaper websites in Canada.
Q. You call it sledding, we call it sledging – just how important a pastime is it for people there?
A. A true Canadian would actually call it tobogganing. Technically a toboggan is a more traditional wooden sled with a rounded front end. If you buy a good one and use it for years, they can get suicidally fast – great fun! But we use the words sledding and tobogganing interchangeably.
We have long winters here, so sledding is a fun pastime for families, especially those with kids. And we’re a skiing city – the Rockies are only about an hour drive away – but that can be expensive, so tobogganing is a nice free alternative you can do in the city. However, finding the best hills in the city can be tough, especially for newcomers, so we thought we’d ask readers to share their favourites, and we’ve been plotting them on a map.
Q. How did you hear about n0tice and how are you using it?
A. We’re big on crowdsourcing, and we’re always looking for ways to improve the way we present reader information. Crowdsourced maps can be very labour intensive. We did a big project last year in which we crated dozens of maps with community data, and it was a huge amount of work, so when we came across n0tice being used on the Guardian website, we liked it’s potential. We’ve been asking people to either post their sledding hills directly onto the n0ticeboard, or just let us know by email and social media, after which we will post that data ourselves. Most of the response has come through social media, usually people tweeting us a location, but it hasn’t taken us long to post that into the n0ticeboard ourselves.
Q. What sort of response has there been to the sledding noticeboard?
A. It’s been really good. There were more sledding hills plotted in the first day than I expected, and many of them were unknown to me, so already it’s a good resource for Calgarians. Sometimes, a good toboggan hill is a bit like a good fishing hole in that people tend to keep them secret so they don’t get overrun with people, so we’re happy that people are sharing. We’re going to keep building on it through the winter.
Q. Any plans for the future?
A. We get a lot of reader response from social media, so we’re also looking forward to using some of the mapping capabilities directly from Twitter and Instagram. We’d love to get more reader photos in there.
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