Read All About It … some links of interest 3 November 2011

A few interesting pieces that are worth reading:

First up, anyone working in a media organisation should read remarks made by the chairman of the New York Times, Arthur Sulzberger, earlier this week at LSE. He talks about the digital transformation taking place.

Next, a summary of guardian.co.uk’s new community forum called Notice. HuffPo’s Garrett Goodman outlines the eight key things you should know about it.

Finally, the Guardian Technology Blog tackles a question I too have wondered about: Will HTML5 replace native apps?

 

The future flexible

Recently I’ve been thinking back to August 2005. I had just moved to Chicago to start a masters programme at the Medill School of Journalism in Northwestern University. It was the first time I had my own wifi network, which changed the way I used the internet and subsequently the amount of news I consumed. At the same time, my roommate suggested I join Facebook, which had just been made available to US universities. Then I started getting those ‘sent from my blackberry’ messages at the end of emails sent to me and I realised how many people were taking the web with them in their pockets. Every day and everywhere they went. And lets not forget the blogs. Tonnes of people were turning to simple content management systems like WordPress to communicate their news and views to the world one post at a time. Even prompting editors to say they wouldn’t hire new journalists who didn’t keep a blog. Wifi, social networks, smartphones/mobile internet, blogs and its relative microblogging are things we are all exposed to (some might say over-exposed to) these days. But just six years ago, at least in Ireland, they were not yet commonplace.

Now most people have a wifi network or a good broadband connection (heck, it’s so well established it doesn’t need a hyphen between wi and fi anymore), they are on at least one social network (2m people, that’s half the population, are on Facebook in Ireland and counting), smartphones are becoming universal and thousands of people microblog and read others’ microblogs in Ireland several times a day every day.

Sitting here taking stock, six years on from my own technological awakening, I realise how blinded we often are to the big developments. Six years ago, sitting in a newsroom who would have believed that some newspapers in the US would be serving their entire digital audience just through Facebook, or that businesses would be set up to curate those microblogs, or that thousands would use an app to watch presenters like Bryan Dobson read the news on their smartphones (the concept of an app economy hadn’t even struck).

It should be acknowledged, the underlying driver of all this change is digital distribution via the internet and how that facilitates peoples’ imaginations, their experiments and ultimately their innovations.

So what are we going to be doing six years from now. And how the hell do news organisations prepare for it?

The first thing to accept, and to become comfortable with, is that we don’t know what’s coming next. There are low barriers to entry for innovative ways to deliver news and news content. In the next six years at least one person will come up with a another novel way to deliver news in a way that people want it. Upsetting organisations’ strategies and plans.

The only way to prepare for something you can’t prepare for is to create and foster a culture that values flexibility and has a desire, even a hunger, to work on the cutting edge driven by its audience’s demands. It must be a culture supported by everyone not just driven by a few digital leaders.

The only future a news organisation can plan for is a future of flexibility.

Read All About It – some news, links about mobile

First off, very interesting research yesterday from Pew, which found that 59% of American adults go online wirelessly (using a laptop or mobile/cellphone), which is up 8% from 2009.

Pew gives a breakdown of ‘non-voice’ cellphone application usage. Interestingly, the percentage of cellphone users accessing the internet on their devices has increased from 25% to 38%. However, in the 18-29 age group that internet access figure jumps to 65%.

Plus more than half of all cellphone internet users access the internet every day from their devices, according to the research.

Read the full report also eweek has some good coverage, which focuses on the ethnic breakdown of cellphone usage.

Next up,  Apple’s advertising platform iAd has debuted and the results, according to this article, are initially looking good. The article by thenextweb.com says click-through rates are five times higher.

Turning to video, YouTube said yesterday that it is serving up 100m videos a day on its mobile website, which it re-launched at m.youtube.com, according to Janko Roettgers at newteevee.com.

Finally, in this blog post, Adrian Hon says the iPhone 4 may be the ‘last major advance in mobile phones we’ll ever see’, which is a fairly bold statement. After reading quite a lot of coverage about its faults, it’s an interesting big picture perspective.

Seems to me the mobile space is getting more and more interesting.

If I were running a news organisation, I’d be spending on my mobile website and apps,

B

Media 2020 Conference – Twitter Stream Highlights

I wasn’t at the Media 2020 conference in Croke Park, Dublin, today.  But using the Twitter hashtag #Med2020 I could follow many of the main points, which were highlighted by tweeting conference attendees as they were made by the speakers.

Here is the summary of points I have picked out from the stream, which I think are relevant for journalists and content producers.

I’ve broken it down by speaker (not all speakers are included) and used one tweeter per speaker to avoid confusion (each point is an individual tweet from the stream). Thanks to all the tweeters for keeping everyone updated!

First off, some overview points that seem to be coming back a lot from the #Med2020 twitter stream:

1) Experiment, cheaply, quickly, if you fail do it fast and learn from it
2) Mobile is going to be massive
3) Revenue models are not clear yet

By speaker:

Maeve Donovan, Former Managing Director, The Irish Times
Tweeter: Niamh Smith (@niamhsmith)

-Can newspapers make the necessary changes? Maeve believes they can based on her 30 yrs experience in the industry

-Roles of newspapers to make the most of the immense opportunities offered by emerging technologies

-Digital revolution has much broader implications than its effect on newspapers or tv

-Hardest words to say are ‘I don’t know’ – and she doesn’t know for sure the future of newspapers

Jonathon Moore, Guardian News & Media
Tweeter: Hugh Linehan (@hlinehan)

-Guardian Eyewitness iPad app: very simple app publishing one photo a day. Video: Jobs sings its praises

-You live or die by user recommendations on the app store

-Big traffic spike on Guardian app at 10.30pm. Technology changing how and when people consume content

-Moore: We expected migration to our app would cause fall-off in use of web browser. Hasn’t been the case

Mark Little, Storyful
Tweeter: Gareth O’Connor (@garethoconnor)

-#Med202 hears from @marklittlenews that basic reporting skills still needed by curators and super-users in new age

-New business opportunities for storytelling @marklittlenews tells #med2020

-@marklittlenews tells #med2020 that 2010 marks turning point in journalism

Ronan Higgins, Local, mobile social software start-up
Tweeter: Niamh Smith (@niamhsmith)

-Apps store – a new walled garden. iTunes-simplicity, quality, speed-applied this ethos to iPhone

Matt Locke – C4 Commissioning Editor, New Media & Education
Tweeter: Hugh Linehan (@hlinehan)

-Facebook picks up tiny snippets of attention and rolls them up into something gargantuan

-Very intelligent stuff – but a bit depressing that the experimental groundbreaker cited is Embarrassing Bodies. Blecchh

-Bingeing on cult content – four or five episodes at a time (I think I recognise myself in this presentation)

-Cult content. The Wire first TV series passed around like a 1970s rock album from friend to friend. User content around Lost

-Events-driven initiatives like ITV’s election debate worm – broadcasters comfortable with that

-What broadcast does well is events. So we’re seeing the eventisation of TV, from talent shows to Lambing Live (!)

-Locke: broadcasters used to own the audience. But with new technology, old platforms have to learn what it is they really do well

Múirne Laffan – Executive Director, RTÉ Publishing
Tweeter: Eoin Purcell (@eoinpurcell)

-Laffan: 3.5 million uniques a month for rte.ie and 1 million of those are overseas!

-Laffan: RTE has a hub and spoke model. Create content in hub and reuse as much as possible

-Laffan: Boundaries to entry are very low. Global opportunities. But getting to market quickly is important. Mobile is huge

-Laffan see every tv connected to the internet in Ireland in 10 yrs!

-Laffan: Consumer expectations are through the roof

Note: Compiling this post this evening has reinforced my feeling that Twitter streams are much easier to follow live and are hard work to use as an archive – looking forward to some journalists’ and bloggers’ analysis of the conference.

**Update – Two good pieces about yesterday’s conference: The Irish Times’ Hugh Linehan (including video of Minister Eamon Ryan) and Fin O’Reilly.**

-B