Posts tagged mobile

We want the best news product in the world, but we don’t want journalists working for us.

Jason Calacanis, founder of the recently launched Inside.com, a news service designed to serve human-curated news digests to readers on mobile devices.

Bits Blog:

The start of Inside is the latest instance of mobile apps, including Circa and Yahoo’s News Digest, turning to people to help filter the din created by endless streams of content found online. Graham Holdings, the education and media company that used to be the Washington Post Company before it sold the newspaper to Jeff Bezos, released Trove last week, an overhaul of its Social Reader app that now combines human curation and algorithms to present news stories.

FJP: It sounds like an interesting trifecta of ambitions, which Calcanis discusses in an interview with Nieman Lab, excerpted below.

01. Like Netflix, it will  learn your preferences and serve you accordingly.

Nobody’s figured out mobile news. The great thing about mobile it’s going to be a magnitude bigger than the web. Now that we’re in people’s pockets and we’ve learned what they want to do, we’re going to be able to really optimize people’s experience to get them to the great stuff. If they want all of the news, they can go to the all-update feed. If they want news just tailored to them, I think over the next year or two we’re going to really be able to know, hey, Staci really likes media stories and she’s really into The New York Times and she really likes these five entrepreneurs and this is her favorite baseball team — and these are the five or six types of stories she doesn’t want. She doesn’t want Kim Kardashian in her feed, because she’s voted her down twice, so we’ve never going to show it again in my topics.

02. The company wants to be Google-proof.

To make a Google-proof company, I wanted to have a killer brand that people would remember and come to like — a product so compelling that it has a repeatable effect. The problem at Mahalo or eHow is you use it for two hours to get your baking recipe, then you don’t use it again for two months — then you use it again for putting up curtains. You really rely on people going to Google.

With news, people will go directly to a site, which makes it impervious to Google. And the app ecosystem is also impervious to Google. They can’t control apps even though they have a big footprint in Android, nor have they shown a propensity to control the app ecosystem on Android. I think they would get a revolt on their hands if they did.

03. All this curation will be of strictly original content, to cut out the middle men and help great journalism get discovered.

We don’t see ourselves as the destination. We see ourselves as the curator of the best journalism in the world, so we’re very specifically only linking to the original journalist. We’re training our curators to understand The Huffington Post or Business Insider, which might do 70 to 80 percent aggregation of other people’s content and 20 to 30 percent original, and how to know the difference. So if Business Insider pulls a quote from The New York Times story and we find it on Business Insider, we’re actually going to wind up linking to The New York Times. We see ourselves as an antidote to the sort of middleman role and people rewriting other people’s content. We’re going to really actually do the work to figure out who came up with the original story.

 Play with it here.

Dear subscriber, you are registered as a participant in a mass disturbance.

Via Vice:

That’s a text message that thousands of Ukrainian protesters spontaneously received on their cell phones today, as a new law prohibiting public demonstrations went into effect. It was the regime’s police force, sending protesters the perfectly dystopian text message to accompany the newly minted, perfectly dystopian legislation.

Via The New York Times:

The government’s opponents said three recent actions had been intended to incite the more radical protesters and sow doubt in the minds of moderates: the passing of laws last week circumscribing the right of public assembly, the blocking of a protest march past the Parliament building on Sunday and the sending of cellphone messages on Tuesday to people standing in the vicinity of the fighting that said, “Dear subscriber, you are registered as a participant in a mass disturbance.”…

…The phrasing of the message, about participating in a “mass disturbance,” echoed language in a new law making it a crime to participate in a protest deemed violent. The law took effect on Tuesday. And protesters were concerned that the government seemed to be using cutting-edge technology from the advertising industry to pinpoint people for political profiling.

Internet Populations
Cartograms are interesting. Instead of displaying political boundaries, they show data boundaries. So, for example, mapping the world across social and economic indicators.
Here, though, is Internet penetration, via the Oxford Internet Institute. It represents who’s online and where.
Via The Atlantic

The map, created as part of the Information Geographies project at the Oxford Internet Institute, has two layers of information: the absolute size of the online population by country (rendered in geographical space) and the percent of the overall population that represents (rendered by color). Thus, Canada, with a relatively small number of people takes up little space, but is colored dark red, because more than 80 percent of people are online. China, by contrast, is huge, with more than half a billion people online, but relatively lightly shaded, since more than half the population is not online. Lightly colored countries that have large populations, such as China, India, and Indonesia, are where the Internet will grow the most in the years ahead.

And, via the Oxford Institute’s Mark Graham and Stefano De Sabbata, some trends:

First, the rise of Asia as the main contributor to the world’s Internet population; 42% of the world’s Internet users live in Asia, and China, India, and Japan alone host more Internet users than Europe and North America combined…
…The map also reveals interesting patterns in some of the world’s poorest countries. Most Latin American countries now can count over 40% of their citizens as Internet users. Because of this, Latin America as a whole now hosts almost as many Internet users as the United States.
Some African countries have seen staggering growth, whereas other have seen little change since we last mapped Internet use globally in 2008. In the last three years, almost all North African countries doubled their population of Internet users (Algeria being a notable exception). Kenya, Nigeria, and South Africa, also saw massive growth. However, it remains that over half of Sub-Saharan African countries have an Internet penetration of less than 10%, and have seen very little grow in recent years.
It is therefore important to remember that despite the massive impacts that the Internet has on everyday life for many people, most people on our planet remain entirely disconnected. Only one third of the world’s population has access to the Internet.

FJP: Global mobile penetration? At 6.8 billion mobile subscribers, that’s another story. So, disconnected in a sense. But being mobile can be very connected.
Image: Internet Population and Penetration, via the Oxford Internet Institute. Select to embiggen.

Internet Populations

Cartograms are interesting. Instead of displaying political boundaries, they show data boundaries. So, for example, mapping the world across social and economic indicators.

Here, though, is Internet penetration, via the Oxford Internet Institute. It represents who’s online and where.

Via The Atlantic

The map, created as part of the Information Geographies project at the Oxford Internet Institute, has two layers of information: the absolute size of the online population by country (rendered in geographical space) and the percent of the overall population that represents (rendered by color). Thus, Canada, with a relatively small number of people takes up little space, but is colored dark red, because more than 80 percent of people are online. China, by contrast, is huge, with more than half a billion people online, but relatively lightly shaded, since more than half the population is not online. Lightly colored countries that have large populations, such as China, India, and Indonesia, are where the Internet will grow the most in the years ahead.

And, via the Oxford Institute’s Mark Graham and Stefano De Sabbata, some trends:

First, the rise of Asia as the main contributor to the world’s Internet population; 42% of the world’s Internet users live in Asia, and China, India, and Japan alone host more Internet users than Europe and North America combined…

…The map also reveals interesting patterns in some of the world’s poorest countries. Most Latin American countries now can count over 40% of their citizens as Internet users. Because of this, Latin America as a whole now hosts almost as many Internet users as the United States.

Some African countries have seen staggering growth, whereas other have seen little change since we last mapped Internet use globally in 2008. In the last three years, almost all North African countries doubled their population of Internet users (Algeria being a notable exception). Kenya, Nigeria, and South Africa, also saw massive growth. However, it remains that over half of Sub-Saharan African countries have an Internet penetration of less than 10%, and have seen very little grow in recent years.

It is therefore important to remember that despite the massive impacts that the Internet has on everyday life for many people, most people on our planet remain entirely disconnected. Only one third of the world’s population has access to the Internet.

FJP: Global mobile penetration? At 6.8 billion mobile subscribers, that’s another story. So, disconnected in a sense. But being mobile can be very connected.

Image: Internet Population and Penetration, via the Oxford Internet Institute. Select to embiggen.

Louis CK: Embrace Loneliness

Why he won’t get his daughter a smartphone.

LEGO Your Phone

Dave Hakkens, a designer from the Netherlands, has an idea to counter the planned obsolescence of our phones. He calls it Phonebloks and envisions modular components that can be snapped together based on an owner’s desires for a phone. More importantly, it counters the vast amount of electronic waste created by our discarded phones.

Via Phonebloks:

The market of electronic devices is growing rapidly, but it feels like we are building disposable stuff. Every time we make something new we completely throw away the old one. Imagine all the good displays, bluetooths and speakers we have thrown away. I love the connected world where we live in and it’s time to set up a universal modular platform where companies work on together.

Phonebloks is a concept. There’s no Kickstarter-type crowdfunding going on. As Hakkens explains, the idea is too much for one company. Instead, he wants multiple companies (the component makers) to buy into the idea. Consider this a very aspirational and clever way to tackle a very serious problem.

So, instead of crowdfunding to make the phone, Hakkens is using Thunderclap to generate social buzz and hopefully draw companies’ interest to the idea by showing how popular it could be.

Currently, over 375,000 people have signed up for the Thunderclap campaign. If you’d like to add your (social) voice to the mix, you can do so here.

For the First Time, U.S. Consumes More Digital Media Than TV
Via Mashable: 

According to an eMarketer study released Thursday, Americans spend four hours and 40 minutes online using either a mobile device or a computer, compared with four hours and 31 minutes watching TV.

FJP: Well, I know I spend a third of my life sleeping…. subtract the eight hours at work, two hours commuting… an hour for dinner and a shower… that leaves me with five whole hours to do whatever I want, and television is the answer. —Gabbi

For the First Time, U.S. Consumes More Digital Media Than TV

Via Mashable

According to an eMarketer study released Thursday, Americans spend four hours and 40 minutes online using either a mobile device or a computer, compared with four hours and 31 minutes watching TV.

FJP: Well, I know I spend a third of my life sleeping…. subtract the eight hours at work, two hours commuting… an hour for dinner and a shower… that leaves me with five whole hours to do whatever I want, and television is the answer. —Gabbi

Smart Phones Shipped, First Quarter 2013
Researchers at IDC report that 216 million smart phones were shipped in the first quarter of 2013, up 63 million from the same period in 2012.
Via Reuters:

Sales of the iPhone 5 helped Apple’s volumes grow 6.6 percent to 37.4 million phones in the quarter from a year earlier, but that was not enough to stop its share of the market dropping to 17.3 percent from 23 percent, research firm IDC said.
A flood of cheaper Android-powered devices from the South Korean maker lifted its shipments about 60 percent to 70.7 million, giving it a 32.7 percent of the market, up from 28.8 percent a year earlier.
During the first quarter Samsung shipped more smartphones than the next four vendors combined, IDC said.

Image: Smart phones shipped worldwide, first quarter 2013.

Smart Phones Shipped, First Quarter 2013

Researchers at IDC report that 216 million smart phones were shipped in the first quarter of 2013, up 63 million from the same period in 2012.

Via Reuters:

Sales of the iPhone 5 helped Apple’s volumes grow 6.6 percent to 37.4 million phones in the quarter from a year earlier, but that was not enough to stop its share of the market dropping to 17.3 percent from 23 percent, research firm IDC said.

A flood of cheaper Android-powered devices from the South Korean maker lifted its shipments about 60 percent to 70.7 million, giving it a 32.7 percent of the market, up from 28.8 percent a year earlier.

During the first quarter Samsung shipped more smartphones than the next four vendors combined, IDC said.

Image: Smart phones shipped worldwide, first quarter 2013.

Pushy Notifications

AdAge reports that the New York Times and Wall Street Journal are using more push notifications on their mobile and tablet apps than they did in the past.

The move reflects a strategy to increase user engagement with the apps that while downloaded, sometimes sit dormant on people’s devices. Specifically, each newsroom is using notifications for breaking news.

Via AdAge:

The New York Times and the Wall Street Journal — No. 1 and No. 2, respectively, in terms of U.S. digital circulation, according to the Alliance for Audited Media — are putting more emphasis on using mobile alerts to distribute breaking news stories and promote their mobile apps.

News publishers have long considered push notifications, which pop up on phone and tablet screens, too intrusive to use more than sparingly. In recent months, however, The Journal and Times have reconsidered that stance and started using them more often.

"We felt comfortable that our breaking news alerts have been well-received by readers and that we may have been a little too stringent about what alerts we should have been sending," said Jonathan Ellis, deputy editor of digital platforms at The Times, which has revised its guidelines on the subject. "More frequently, we’re asking ourselves the question ‘Should this be a mobile push alert?’"

FJP: The strategy is similar to one used by app developers and their frequent updates, no matter how small. It’s a reminder to the User that the app exists and hopefully prods him or her to use it again.

AdAge reports that those that opt in to push notifications are five times more likely to use an app but does take this warning from Brent Hieggelke, CMO at Urban Airship, “Push is not a channel to nag your customer. That’s a terrible experience.”

Yesterday’s Electronics in the Palm of Your Hand
Singularity Hub wins in the picture’s worth a thousand words department as it reflects on Moore’s Law and consumer electronics.
Singularity Hub, Moore’s Law is No Joke — Pile of Electronics from 1993 Fits in Your Palm Today.

Yesterday’s Electronics in the Palm of Your Hand

Singularity Hub wins in the picture’s worth a thousand words department as it reflects on Moore’s Law and consumer electronics.

Singularity Hub, Moore’s Law is No Joke — Pile of Electronics from 1993 Fits in Your Palm Today.

News Is Bad For You

Apparently, the more mobile devices you have, the higher your perceived value of media is. According to BCG’s recent study, Through the Mobile Looking Glass, when you get a second mobile device, there is a 41% increase in perceived media value, a 40% increase when you get a third, and a 30% increase when you get a fourth. 

Which makes sense, if you’re spending your days juggling four mobile devices and consuming media on all of them. What could be more important than the information nuggets you’re eating all day long?

Hopefully a lot of things, considering that the nutritional value of all the information we’re consuming could be very low.

The Guardian’s Rolf Dobelli explains:

In the past few decades, the fortunate among us have recognised the hazards of living with an overabundance of food (obesity, diabetes) and have started to change our diets. But most of us do not yet understand that news is to the mind what sugar is to the body. News is easy to digest. The media feeds us small bites of trivial matter, tidbits that don’t really concern our lives and don’t require thinking. That’s why we experience almost no saturation. Unlike reading books and long magazine articles (which require thinking), we can swallow limitless quantities of news flashes, which are bright-coloured candies for the mind. Today, we have reached the same point in relation to information that we faced 20 years ago in regard to food. We are beginning to recognise how toxic news can be.

Dobelli goes on to provide illustrative examples of the following:

  • News misleads.
  • News is irrelevant.
  • News has no explanatory power.
  • News is toxic to your body (literally).
  • News increases cognitive errors.
  • News inhibits thinking.
  • News works like a drug (you begin to crave it).
  • News wastes time.
  • News kills creativity.

Dobelli wants us to go without news. To be clear, he’s not arguing against ALL journalism. He supports investigative journalism, long-form, and books, but for the last four years has entirely removed the consumption of other (shorter) news from his diet. He’s since experienced: “less disruption, less anxiety, deeper thinking, more time, and more insights.”

FJP: Firstly, journalists simply can’t afford that kind of lifestyle and anyone active on a social network can’t avoid it. And great, illuminating, informative, well-reported, well-presented journalism is out there. But if we set aside the details of his argument (over which we could debate at length), Dobelli’s larger point (that our news consumption habits aren’t very healthy), coupled with the fact that we of the mobile generations perceive the value of media so highly, raises the most important question of all for people living in 2013: How can we construct healthy, anxiety-free, informative, enjoyable news diets that help us live better lives and understand the world better? News literacy. Just like we ought to do with food, practice consuming with balance and intention.—Jihii

canisfamiliaris:

Discipline. Doggy Style.

FJP: Wait until everyone has their Google Glasses.

canisfamiliaris:

Discipline. Doggy Style.

FJP: Wait until everyone has their Google Glasses.

Books on the Train

Here’s an interesting library tech concept by students from the Miami Ad School. Lend library books to people who are riding the subway. Or, at least, the first 10 pages of them.

The idea is to use a technology called Near Field Communication that’s embedded in contemporary phones to swipe a bar code in a subway car to download a book sample. NFC is a low powered wireless communication system that allows devices to talk to and share information with each other.

Again, the idea is conceptual, but a fascinating innovation to introduce people to new books — and their local libraries — during the daily commute. When a person leaves the subway, they’re alerted to the nearest library branch that has the book so they can continue reading.

And it’s not as far-fetched as it might seem. The technology exists, and people are already shopping by cell phones and QR codes in South Korean subways.

A little fact checking moment on the above video though: public library use is increasing, not decreasing, according to a recent report from the Center for an Urban Future (PDF). Matter of fact, as the New York Times reports:

Over 40 million visits were paid to the New York, Brooklyn and Queens systems in the 2011 fiscal year, the center said, or more than the combined attendance at all the city’s professional sports games or major cultural institutions. The libraries circulated 69 million books and other materials and responded to 14.5 million reference questions.

But we’ll let that error slide. They are, after all, advertising — and not journalism — students.

Video: The Underground Subway, by Max Pilwat, Keri Tan and Ferdi Rodriguez.

Tibetan Jailed For Having Photos of Self-Immolators on Mobile Phone

Via Radio Free Asia:

A young Tibetan traditional artist was sentenced to two years in jail with hard labor for having photos on his mobile phone of two compatriots who self-immolated in protest against Chinese rule, according to exile sources Saturday.

Ngawang Thupden, 20, was detained in October last year in Lhasa, the capital of the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR), but relatives learned of the prison sentence for “subversion” only four months later, the sources said, citing contacts in the Himalayan region…

…Chinese authorities have been cracking down hard on any efforts by Tibetans to publicize self-immolation protests after steps taken by Beijing to stop the burnings failed. 

Thupden was accused of “subversion, propagating incorrect political messages, and  causing disharmony among ethnic minorities.”

The decadence and corruption associated with [Rightel’s] use outweighs its benefits. It will cause new deviances in our society, which is unfortunately already plagued with deviances.

Grand Ayatollah Makarem-Shirazi in a fatwa against Rightel, a 3G mobile operator that’s bringing video calls to Iran. AL Monitor, Fatwa Issued Against 3G Internet Operator in Iran.

FJP: A second Ayatollah says the video calls “jeopardize the public chastity”.

A petition signed by some residents in the city of Qom says that services like Rightel are a part of “enemy culture” and “facilitate access to sin and decadence”.