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April 09 2013


April 03 2013

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April 02 2013


Winners: Windows 8 Apps for Social Good Contest

All-Army runners take top trophy from Brazilians at 26th Army Ten-MilerWe believe that apps are a powerful way for everyday people to act for social good, making their lives, and the lives of their communities, stronger.

read more

July 26 2012


Review: Translate app

Antoinette Siu takes a look at a new free app which promises to make transcribing audio easier.

Transcribing audio is one of the most time-consuming tasks in a journalist’s job. Switching between the audio player and the text editor, rewinding every 20 seconds in, typing frantically to catch every syllable—repeating these steps back and forth, and back and forth… in an age of so much automation, something isn’t quite right.

A new Chrome app tool called Transcribe lets you do all that in one screen. With keyboard shortcuts and an audio file uploader, you can easily go back and forth between your sound and text.

The basic version is (and likely always will be) free; the pro version goes for $19/month on the Solo plan or $29/month on the Premium plan. With both, a 30-day free trial is included with no credit card necessary.

Just from testing the basic app, there seems to be a huge potential in a free reporting tool like this. Another upside is, even when you lack internet access the app will continue to work.

With the upgrade to pro, the developers offer options to save your transcripts, export the documents, and other sweet features like the full screen mode—so you can really focus on getting that transcription done free from distractions.

Overall, the app is not only intuitively simple to use, but audio uploads are fast, the design is simple and without clutter, and, most of all, free from advertising at this point.

The tool is definitely off to a promising start, considering it’s still a work in progress.


Review: Translate app

Antoinette Siu takes a look at a new free app which promises to make transcribing audio easier.

Transcribing audio is one of the most time-consuming tasks in a journalist’s job. Switching between the audio player and the text editor, rewinding every 20 seconds in, typing frantically to catch every syllable—repeating these steps back and forth, and back and forth… in an age of so much automation, something isn’t quite right.

A new Chrome app tool called Transcribe lets you do all that in one screen. With keyboard shortcuts and an audio file uploader, you can easily go back and forth between your sound and text.

The basic version is (and likely always will be) free; the pro version goes for $19/month on the Solo plan or $29/month on the Premium plan. With both, a 30-day free trial is included with no credit card necessary.

Just from testing the basic app, there seems to be a huge potential in a free reporting tool like this. Another upside is, even when you lack internet access the app will continue to work.

With the upgrade to pro, the developers offer options to save your transcripts, export the documents, and other sweet features like the full screen mode—so you can really focus on getting that transcription done free from distractions.

Overall, the app is not only intuitively simple to use, but audio uploads are fast, the design is simple and without clutter, and, most of all, free from advertising at this point.

The tool is definitely off to a promising start, considering it’s still a work in progress.

April 27 2012


Poll: Where Are Your Favorite Places to Share Photos?

You recently went on vacation to an exotic and new locale and you want to show people your great photos from the trip. So where do you post them online? Are you a fan of Flickr or Facebook? What about Instagram? Or perhaps you're part of the thriving photography community on Google+. And let's not forget the old school folks who still prefer getting photo prints and putting them in an actual real physical photo album! Vote in our poll -- you can vote for multiple items -- and explain in the comments what makes a good photo-sharing service for you.

Where are your favorite places to share photos?

This is a summary. Visit our site for the full post ».


Mediatwits #46: Photography Special: Creative Commons, Cameraphones, Instagram, Google+

rafat photo.jpg

Welcome to the 46th episode of the Mediatwits podcast, this time with Mark Glaser and the Rafat Ali as co-hosts. Rafat is celebrating his birthday, we're not sure how old he is, but we know that he loves photography. So this week we are celebrating his birthday by doing a special show focused on photography in the digital age. Our roundtable includes crack professional photographer Gregor Halenda, photo and multimedia guru Brian Storm and social photographer extraordinaire Thomas Hawk in a wide-ranging discussion.

First is the debate over rights: Is it a good idea to post your photos on social media under a Creative Commons license? Or should you be more restrictive of your photos online? We also talk about the state of stock photography and the democratization of photography now that the tools are more accessible -- and everyone has a potential global reach online. And what about the rise of amazing cameraphones, apps and filters? Now that Instagram has been bought by Facebook for $1 billion, what's the implication about the future of photo-sharing and filters? Thomas Hawk also cites Google+ as being a hotbed of photography. How did it surpass Facebook?

Check it out!


Subscribe to the podcast here

Subscribe to Mediatwits via iTunes

Follow @TheMediatwits on Twitter here

Our show is now on Stitcher and being featured there! Listen to us on your iPhone, Android Phone, Kindle Fire and other devices with Stitcher. Find Stitcher in your app store or at stitcher.com.

Intro and outro music by 3 Feet Up; mid-podcast music by Autumn Eyes via Mevio's Music Alley.

thomas hawk.jpg

Here are some highlighted topics from the show:


0:20: Happy birthday to Rafat!

2:15: Rafat got the photography bug in last two years

4:00: Pro photographers threatened by rise of amateurs

Creative Commons a good thing?

6:00: Special guests Thomas Hawk, Brian Storm and Gregor Halenda

8:30: Flickr has even started to innovate, along with newer players

10:20: Halenda: I won't post on Flickr or under Creative Commons, I want to be paid


13:20: Hawk: There are examples of pro photogs making a business from posting online

What skills do photographers need now?

15:00: Storm: Schools are teaching kids everything -- photography, video and multimedia

18:00: Halenda: Stock photography can't support pros anymore

20:10: Storm: Everyone has tools and distribution so now it's all about quality

22:10: Hawk: Google+ lets you share circles of photographers with all followers

Cameraphones get ever more powerful

25:30: High-end cameras are still selling well


27:30: Hawk likes Camera Awesome as one of his favorite photo apps

29:40: Halenda says knowing Photoshop is essential to pro photography

32:30: Storm helped start "The Week in Pictures" at MSNBC.com in 1998 as pioneer; had 100 million page views last month

More Reading

Photojournalists Scramble to Video. Is it Worth It? at MediaShift

Digital camera sales defy smartphone onslaught at the Globe and Mail

Zuckerberg announces Instagram purchase on Facebook

Camera Awesome app

Thomas Hawk on Google+

Gregor Halenda Photography


The Week in Pictures at MSNBC.com

The Big Picture at Boston.com

Lens blog at NY Times

Guardian Eyewitness app

Flickr Creative Commons images

Creative Commons' Images blog

Creative Commons + Flickr = 22 Million Sharable Photos at MediaShift

The Digital Journalist

Weekly Poll

Don't forget to vote in our weekly poll, this time about where you share photos:

Where are your favorite places to share photos?

Mark Glaser is executive editor of MediaShift and Idea Lab. He also writes the bi-weekly OPA Intelligence Report email newsletter for the Online Publishers Association. He lives in San Francisco with his son Julian. You can follow him on Twitter @mediatwit. and Circle him on Google+

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March 28 2012


'Reckless Adrian Grenier': Will Personal Apps be Key to Celebrity Branding?

March marked the launch of "Reckless Adrian Grenier," an app built for the iPad, iPhone and iPod and created by Mobovivo for its namesake, actor and filmmaker Adrian Grenier.


Some of you are moaning, "why does he need an app?" but others of you are perhaps "Entourage" fans, and an opportunity to get reacquainted with Grenier, who played Vincent Chase, is an exciting prospect.

That latter group is just the one that app developers are looking to as they launch a new kind of application -- the personal brand app.

Trevor Doerksen, founder and CEO of Mobovivo, said he's pretty confident that this new kind of personality app "is the right next step for a film and television celebrity." 

It's clear as more and more celebrities flock to the app model, it will become harder to stand out from the crowd. Developers and creators of apps will have to push themselves to pinpoint what is unique about their celebrity, sports star, comedian, politician, etc., in order to translate "personalities" into "brands" and then into digital interactive experiences in fresh ways.

For Doerksen, that means getting beyond just "chat" as engagement:

"Adrian is an indie filmmaker, and as a former filmmaker myself, I recognized what he was trying to do to engage audiences and tell more stories. Twitter has already created a good app for celebrities to chat with fans, but we need to go deeper than chat. Don't get me wrong, the human desire for communication is fundamental and chat features prominently in our platform. However, we all seem to need to satisfy a fundamental sense of curiosity and play as well."

Grenier and Doerksen gave a special keynote address to close Digital Hollywood's Media Summit earlier this month in New York, and I had an opportunity to chat with both of them about the "whys" and 'hows" of planning "Reckless Adrian Grenier."

controlling your own brand


There is an endgame to the personal app for celebrities. It offers a chance for them to control their own destiny in a way rarely seen with the Hollywood PR machine. With a movie star's box-office draw becoming about as predictable as blindly tossing chewed gum at a wall and hoping it sticks, building an audience base with a personal app is the equivalent of a politician getting out there to shake hands and hold babies to build his constituency -- the good old-fashioned grassroots way, albeit with digital handshaking and autograph signing.

Today social media and second screen experiences focus on making celebrities more accessible to their fan base. Grenier is already active on Twitter, with almost 227,000 followers, and Facebook with almost 114,00 fans, but by creating a personal app, he's not just further brand building "Adrian Grenier" -- he's also cross-branding with Reckless Productions, his production company. He's bringing the HBO Entourage audience into his antonymous world. Despite Grenier's personal fame, Reckless Productions, best known so far for "Teenage Paparazzo," fits into most indie film models. Indie film companies need funding, and investors like metrics and analytics. A dedicated and active audience of "Reckless Adrian Grenier" users can be directly marketed to with push notifications and other directives, a comfort to today's film investors with marketing budgets ballooning out of control.

(The "Reckless Adrian Grenier" app is free to download, but there are charges for certain features and items for purchase. Currently, all proceeds will go to the SHFT, an eco-conscious multimedia platform co-founded by Grenier. Focused on design, SHFT won the Best Green Website at the Webby Awards last year.)


AdrianGrenierTrevor Doerksen_courtesy.jpg

MediaShift: What made you decide to create an app?

Adrian Grenier: I'm a modern guy and just like anyone else I'm looking to explore the possibilities of storytelling and connecting with my audience independently, not always having to rely on the bigger production companies and distributors to control everything I do. It is a real blessing in this day and age to have that opportunity and to be on the cutting edge of technology; we are explorers in a lot of ways. I've had several app ideas over the years and not all of them this good. This is the one that really made sense and ultimately Mobovivo was able to create it.

When did you first realize the value of connecting with your fans as an artist?

Grenier: I always realized the value, but maybe I was a little lazy at first because it is a lot of work, at least to make that engagement authentic and real and true. I don't have a company doing my social media for me. It's all genuine.

How does the Reckless app assist you in making a unique and genuine connection with your fans?

Grenier: If you use a website, you always end up having to go to another program to connect. If you want to reach out to your fans, you have to send them an email or create a video and send it to them, and maybe they will comment, but that's on YouTube. This is a really direct connection; this is the bridge directly from me and Reckless to people who want that content. And it's beyond that -- it's leveraging casual encounters that I have with people every day and allowing them to become a very personal interaction. For example, I'm on tour with my film "Teenage Paparazzo." It's an educational tour, and we are going to colleges around the country. Every time I want to share something with them, I have to say, "Send me an email, sign up or whatever," but in this case, they can download the app and boom, we're already off to the races. In 2.0, (he laughs) I'm already excited for 2.0 ...

Trevor Doerksen interrupts: The Apple Store hasn't even released 1.0 yet.

Grenier: We have big ambitions and big ideas, and that's what I'm really excited about. This is really just the first breath.

Your existing fans will be interested in the app, but how do you anticipate the Reckless app will create or build a new fan base?

Grenier: The medium and the format are really just the tool. It is about the personal voice of the artist that makes it unique. Twitter is only 140 characters, but it is the unique voice of the individual that allows people to differentiate themselves. I can see the Reckless app being more than just a platform for me. I can see other people using it to connect with their audience, their fans and their friends. I don't know how much we need to reinvent our wheel; we need to spread it and share it.

How is this "sharing" done on a technical level?

Doerksen: I think how you do this is you get the market. That is what is wonderful from a technology point of view -- that there are so many things given to us today, from cloud computing to Apple SDK to the App Store to these new devices. (He holds up an iPhone.) This is a neat canvas to take advantage of. One of the things that will be an input to what we do next will be what we hear from what we do first. So I think getting the market is key to finding out what people like and what they would like to see in the future. That is going to happen with an app more than perhaps with another platform -- it's what's in your pocket.

We have a brand like "Reckless," a user experience where it is in your pocket, under your arm, on your desktop. To find a bookmark, you don't have to go searching; it is a click away. That engagement as we move forward is going to happen on television, maybe even on toasters. For now, we are excited to get feedback on 1.0.

I only saw the trailer for "Teenage Paparazzo" on the iPad version of the app. What other video content will be available for users?

Grenier: We have a lot of video content coming, but we feel like it's best to get out into the water and get our feet wet instead of waiting. It reminds me of surfing. I'm not a surfer, but I've been a couple times. You put the surfboard on the sand, and you practice jumping up. That's easy; anyone can do that. But you put it in the ocean and the waves are coming, and it's a whole other ball game. We wanted to get out there and get our sea legs.

Doerksen: You're like I am on these things, as are a lot of other people. It's an app put out by a film production company and people will ask, "Where's the film?" That's coming, too. Engaging content and entertainment is coming and, of course, more social.

How often can users expect new content to be added?

Grenier: Definitely every time we do an event at a school we will update the snapshots of the students. We have a ton of content -- especially with short form, the turnaround is much quicker. We are always creating short videos.

I see that as the most fascinating part of an app. It's almost a living, breathing entity. It isn't a film, which is finite. It grows and changes. How did you know the app was ready for release?

Grenier: That is something Trevor has been shepherding me through because I am a perfectionist but he's like, "Just relax." There's a learning process in release as well, in letting go.

Doerksen: One of the nice things is not just being about content, which is kinda a broadcast medium. We had to make it engaging. That's what we talk about constantly. If we had 85 films to put in the app -- what would the app be about? You'd be watching 85 films eventually? We've created a true fan engagement set of tools; that part is exciting -- and marrying the viewing experience to that, whether it's in front of the television as a second screen model or in a theater or with Adrian at the airport. Now that I have the app, I see the Twitter scroll and I know where you are all the time. (He points to Grenier.)


It will be interesting in the coming months and years to see how app creators push personal apps to new frontiers, finding out what celebrities, not only from the entertainment industry, but sports and beyond, can do with the new tools to harness and connect with their audiences. Let the branding race begin.

Amanda Lin Costa is a writer and producer in the film and television industry. She writes a series called "Truth in Documentary Filmmaking" and is currently producing the documentary, "The Art of Memories."

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February 03 2012


#newsrw: Ten facts and figures learnt in the paid-for content models session

One of the sessions at news:rewired – media in motion looked at paid-for content models, tackling the question of how to make money to pay for digital journalism.

The panellists were: François Nel, researcher, academic and consultant on newsroom and digital business innovation; Tom Standage, digital editor, the Economist; Chris Newell, founder, ImpulsePay; Alex Watson, head of app development, Dennis Publishing

Here are 10 facts and figures from the session:

1. Dennis Publishing has had 3.5 million app downloads since the launch off Apple’s Newsstand on 12 October, Alex Watson told news:rewired delegates.

2. Since the launch of Newsstand, purchases within the App Store have generated $400,000 for Dennis Publishing, publisher of The Week magazine. That is the figure after paying Apple’s 30 per cent cut and VAT.

3. A typical Dennis Publishing page-turning PDF app generated 47,000 app downloads between October and February, resulting in $16,000 of revenue. Richer iPad apps with video, for example, generated 53,000 app downloads and $100,000 in revenue.

4. Tom Standage: The Economist “is looking at creating an HTML5 web app” that can be used across devices.

5. “What we sell is the feeling of being informed when you get to the end of it,” said Tom Standage, digital editor of the Economist.

6. 300,000 out of the Economist’s one million print subscribers are using the Economist’s apps.

7. In two years more than 70 per cent of subscribers to the Economist expect to be reading the publication digitally.

8. 77 per cent of digital subscribers to the Economist are new readers, said Tom Standage.

9. Chris Newell: 90 per cent people complete transactions with PayForIt, a mobile payment system. That compares with 50 per cent when asked to pay by PayPal.

10. François Nel looked at the Daily Mail versus Guardian, two leading titles with two different approaches.

The Daily Mail has experienced one of lowest declines in print circulation, while online has seen a “meteoric rise” of 60 per cent year-on-year. The Mail has focused on its website, not on offering lots of different digital platforms.

The Guardian, meanwhile, has seen a 14 per cent decline in print while offering content on many different digital platforms.

The difference between the Daily Mail and Guardian is that the Mail uses “digital channels to supplement” print; the Guardian, with its many digital platforms, offers a “substitute for print”, François Nel said.

January 21 2012


Google and MIT announce open sourcing of the App Inventor code

Google App Inventor was "a software kit supposed to let average people, not just programmers, create their own apps for the growing number of phone models that use Google’s Android software" (review by David Pogue). That was the idea, until Google decided to close Google Labs last year. 

MIT.edu :: Google and MIT are pleased to announce the initial free and open-source release from Google of the App Inventor source code at http://code.google.com/p/app-inventor-releases/. There's little supporting documentation yet, and we’re not accepting contributions to the code now. That will happen later, after the MIT Center of Mobile Learning opens their App Inventor server to the public.

Continue to read hal, appinventoredu.mit.edu

January 17 2012


Are Newspapers Civic Institutions or Algorithms? | Endless Innovation | Big Think

"... what if, instead, we begin to think of newspapers in perhaps a more mundane manner -- as algorithms for solving problems?"

HOWTO: Native iPhone/iPad apps in JavaScript

"Create native-looking iPhone/iPad applications from HTML, CSS and JavaScript."

January 16 2012


The National Enquirer will introduce Enquirer Plus: an app for gossip

New York Tiems :: American Media Inc. is hoping that enquiring minds will embrace a digital version of its 70-year-old supermarket tabloid, The National Enquirer. Next month, the magazine company will introduce an iPad app of The National Enquirer that it expects to “reinvent gossip.” The app, called Enquirer Plus, will have separate content from the print publication and video aimed at younger readers.

Continue to read Amy Chozick, www.nytimes.com

Tags: apps iPad

January 10 2012


nielsenwire: 33pc of tablet and/or smartphone users downloaded news apps

nielsenwire :: Advertisers and those aiming to reach smartphone and tablet users on their devices should consider the power of free apps. According to Nielsen’s State of the Media: Consumer Usage Report, 51 percent of consumers say that they are okay with advertising on their devices if it means they can access content for free. Free apps are preferred by mobile consumers, though many opt for a combination of both free and paid apps to include in their collection, which usually averages 33 apps total.


Link to the study - Continue to read blog.nielsen.com


January 09 2012


HTML5 will replace native apps - but it will take longer than you think

Business Insider :: As we enter a post-PC era dominated by many devices synced through the cloud, one crucial question is this: How will we consume software? Will it be mostly through the web, or will it be through apps native to our devices? 

[Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry:] We believe that HTML5 will replace apps, but we also think this process will take longer than HTML5 advocates think.

Which will win? Native apps or HTML5? - For this report, we interviewed Stéphane de Luca, CTO of LeKiosque.fr, the top-grossing app on the iTunes App Store in France, Romain Goyet, co-founder & CTO of Applidium, an app development company;  Thomas Sarlandie, co-founder & VP Software of Backelite, a mobile software company; and Steven Pinches, Head of Emerging Technologies at the Financial Times.

via Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry, www.businessinsider.com

Tags: apps HTML5

January 08 2012


Strategy Analytics: Apple will continue to earn majority of app download revenue in 2012

BGR :: Apple will earn more than 53% of all mobile app download revenue this year, according to a new report from Strategy Analytics. The research firm expects that the overall price of applications will fall during the year but that carriers, storefronts and developers will continue to maintain a steady stream of high-quality downloadable content in an effort to offset the decline in prices.

Chart & facts - Continue to read Todd Haselton, www.bgr.com

Tags: Apple apps Mobile

January 05 2012


Financial Times buys its web app maker Assanka, London

paidContent :: The Financial Times has acquired London-based web and application developer Assanka, which made the web app on which the publisher has based its independence from iTunes. Assanka launched the HTML5 web app with the paper’s in-house product team in June 2011, declaring “the craze for native apps is a short one and we are already seeing it on the wane”.

John Ridding's memo - Continue to read Robert Andrews, paidcontent.org

December 30 2011


Clara Jeffery: What nonprofit news orgs are betting on for 2012

Editor’s Note: We’re wrapping up 2011 by asking some of the smartest people in journalism what the new year will bring.

Next up is Clara Jeffery, co-editor of Mother Jones.

Predictions are a chump’s game. So this is more like a window into what the editors of a small nonprofit news organization are betting on.

There is no spoon

Forget distinctions between blog posts and stories because readers don’t care. What they care about is a source — be it news org or author — that they trust and enjoy.

Data viz

We at Mother Jones had a breakout hit with our income inequality charts. 5 million readers, 240K Facebook likes, 14K tweets, and counting. Charts were pasted up on the walls of Wisconsin state capitol during the union fight; #OWS protestors blew them up and put them on signs, and distributed them in leaflets. Partly, it was the right message at the right time. But it was also that a very complicated story was boiled down into 11 charts and that the sources for the charts’ information were provided.

More broadly, in 2011, chart fever swept media orgs — hey, USA Today, you were right all along! In 2012, I am sure we’re not the only ones who are investing in ways to make data more frequent, and more interactive.

Blur the lines between writer/producer/coder

If you want to do visual storytelling, you need people who can marry words with images, animation, video. We’re not only hiring people who have advanced data app and video skills, but we’re also training our entire editorial staff to experiment with video, make charts, and use tools like Document Cloud and Storify to enrich the reader experience. To that end, anything that makes it easier to integrate disparate forms of media — whether it’s HTML5 or Storify — is a friend to journalists.

Collaboration 2.0

There are a number of cool content collaborations out there — MoJo is in the Climate Desk collaboration with The Atlantic, Grist, Slate, Wired, CIR, and Need to Know, for example. But in retooling that project for 2012 (coming soon!), we really started thinking about collaborating with tech or content tool companies like Prezi and Storify. And why shouldn’t news orgs on the same CMS potentially collaborate on new features, sharing development time? So, for example, we, TNR, Texas Monthly, the New York Observer, and Fast Company (I think) are all on Drupal. Is there something we all want? Could we pool dev time and build a better mousetrap? We actually built a “create-your-own-cover” tool that, in keeping with the open-source ethos of Drupal (and because I’m friends with editor Jake Silverstein) we handed over to Texas Monthly; they improved on it. The biggest barrier to collaboration is bandwidth within each constituent group. But ultimately it makes sense to try learn collectively.

Where am I?

As people increasingly get news from their social stream, the implications for news brands are profound. If nobody comes through the homepage, then every page is a homepage. Figuring out when (and if) you can convert flybys into repeat customers is a huge priority — especially for companies that have subscription or donation as part of their revenue stream. If everyone is clamoring for this, then somebody is going to invent the things we need — better traffic analysis tools, but also A/B testers like Optimizely.

It also means that being a part of curation communities — be they Reddit or Longform/Longreads — is as important as having a vibrant social media presence yourself. As is the eye candy of charts, data viz, etc. Lure them in with that, and often they’ll stay for the long feature that accompanies it.

User generated content 2.0

Social media and Storify are making users into content producers in ways that earlier attempts at distributed reporting couldn’t. Especially on fast-breaking stories, they are invaluable partners in the creation process, incorporated into and filtered through verified reporting. For MoJo, for example, the social media implications surrounding our Occupy coverage were profound. We were reporting ourselves, as well as getting reports from hundreds of people on the ground. Some became trusted sources, sort of deputized reporters to augment our own. And we found ourselves serving an invaluable role as fact-checkers on the rumors that swirled around any one incident.

It was heady and often exhausting. But it won us a lot of loyal readers. We could do all that in real time on Twitter and use Storify to curate the best of what we and others were reporting on our site, beaming that back to Twitter. (And Al Jazeera’s The Stream, for example, is taking that kind of social media integration to a whole new level. Of course, it helps to be bankrolled by the Al Thanis.)

Mobile, mobile, mobile

To me, especially within the magazine world, there’s been an overemphasis on “apps,” most of which thus far aren’t so great and are often walled off from social media. But anything that improves — and monetizes — the mobile experience is a win. And any major element of what you’re offering that doesn’t work across the major devices is a sunk cost. Sorry, Flash.

Investigative reporting renaissance

Despite all the hand-wringing of a few years ago, it turns out that people do read longform on the web, on tablets and readers, and even on their phone. They love charts and graphs and animation and explainers. They want to know your sources and even look at primary documents. And they want it all tied up with voice and style. There’s no better time to be an investigative journalist.

December 29 2011


How Did My Predictions for 2011 Turn Out?

It's not too hard to make predictions. What's harder is to honestly evaluate how you did. In that spirit, I'd like to ask your help.

Early this year, I predicted how 2011 would go in digital media. I'd love it if you gave me a letter grade with a Tweet to @dbenk (#gradeDBenk), message to Dorian Benkoil on Google+, or a comment below.

2011 year small.jpg

Meanwhile, I'm assigning myself as judge, jury, executioner and palanquin bearer. I'll try to be as tough as I am for the business school graduate students I teach in media and entertainment technology management.

The Battle of Open Vs. Closed: B+

For 2011, I foresaw a battle of "Open vs. Closed" orientations from media companies in the digital sphere, positing that all the year's trends could be squeezed into this one.

I think I got the basic issue right. Yet, rather than a "battle," it looked more like a scramble. Media production and distribution companies tried to both charge for content and give it away.

The New York Times, Hulu and others tried to finesse both open and closed models, sometimes adjusting as they went.

The New York Times instituted a pay fence and kept trying to thread the needle between keeping traffic up by giving its work away, while making its most avid fans pay.

The Financial Times eschewed Apple's restrictive iPad policies and put its efforts instead into an HTML5 app that lives on the web but lets only subscribers get the full content offering. Walmart launched a web-based video service, Vudu.

Amazon, too, went the web app route with its Cloud Reader that, unlike its iPad app, lets consumers order directly from Amazon, something Apple doesn't allow through apps it approves for the App Store.

Hulu solidified premium offerings, saying you could get its content on the iPad or iPhone only if you paid for the app, and integrated its paid service into other devices such as the Roku box. Fox delayed its offerings on the free Hulu service by eight days. Hulu claims to be closing in on 1 million paid subscribers for the year.


Amazon's new Kindle Fire tablet is on the open-source Android platform but has "branched" the operating system to make it friendly with the device and the Amazon store and app market. That's both open and closed.

I had also predicted continued "open" vs. "closed" battles in Washington. Sure enough, prosecutors are finally making their case against the soldier who allegedly sent protected information to WikiLeaks.

On the policy front, the Federal Communications Commission instituted rules that protect the concept of Net neutrality, saying Internet service providers can't block or slow traffic. The FCC is now facing lawsuits from Verizon and others, as well as attempts in the Senate to block the regulations.

I didn't predict legal wrangling over copyright. To combat those who are illicitly providing content for which its producers want to charge, law makers (and nearly all media companies) are pushing SOPA, the Stop Online Privacy Act.

Opponents said SOPA would choke much of the creativity and sharing that has made the Internet so rich, and industry lobbyists fanned the flames on both sides.

Boycotts were called for SOPA supporters like GoDaddy and 3M, and opponents are discussing a counter bill, which The Atlantic has nicknamed OPEN. We'll see more of these battles next year.

The Battle Over Privacy: A-

There were, as predicted, intense discussions in Congress and federal agencies over whether to tamp down on the current open Internet practices in the name of protecting people's private information.

Industry groups, the Interactive Advertising Bureau a leader among them, fought a rear-guard action that appears to have held up the most draconian measures, such as ones that would have required advertising on the web to always ask a user's permission to institute even basic measurement. (Disclosure: My company has done work for the IAB.)

IAB CEO Randall Rothenberg said industry efforts at self-regulation, under which publishers and advertisers agree to uphold best practices and disclose what information they are collecting and sharing, means the effort at strict regulation "seems to be on the wane."

Still, if Congress ever gets over its gridlock on bigger matters, it may come back to the privacy issue especially after the November elections.

Google vs. Apple: A

Anyone who's paid attention can probably agree that these two Goliaths are fighting tooth, nail, finger, leg, foot and gun.

Google's Android operating system has overtaken Apple's iOS in phones, and is making inroads in tablets, with a big leg up from Amazon's Fire.

But Apple says core features of Android, such as certain finger gestures and internal coding, were stolen by its rival up the road in Silicon Valley.

Steve Jobs told biographer Walter Isaacson he'd "spend my last dying breath if I need to" and all of Apple's $40 billion in cash "to destroy Android," which Jobs said was "stolen" from the company he founded. "I'm willing to go to thermonuclear war on this," he said.

Apple won parts of a lawsuit against HTC this month over infringement of iPhone-related patents, though not at the deep coding level, and suits are continuing against other makers of Android phones such as Samsung. (Apple can't easily go after Google because it doesn't actually make the devices and it provides Android openly, for free.)

Google's Chrome browser installs have overtaken both Apple's Safari and the open-source Firefox, according to StatCounter. That gives Google a leg up in desktop browsing, and offerings such as its web apps, which compete with iOS apps.

Google's Chromebook computer, meanwhile, failed to make a dent even as Apple reached a 15-year high, with 5.2 percent of the world PC market.

Social Media Will Not See a Dip: A

It's hard now to believe that some were predicting a slowdown in social media this year.

Comscore found that social networking by this fall took up one of every five minutes spent online globally and reached 82 percent of Internet users over age 15 at home and work, according to eWeek.

Facebook reaches more than 55 percent of the world's user base, Comscore said. Founder Mark Zuckerberg told public TV interviewer Charlie Rose a few weeks ago that the company could reach 1 billion users in the near future.

Twitter, running second, well behind Facebook, also continues to grow, and LinkedIn has seen an increased presence as a professional network and a traffic referrer to media websites.

While some greeted the advent of Google+ with a beleaguered sigh, the site is said to be gaining on LinkedIn's 94 million visits with 66 million last month, according to Comscore.

Meanwhile, platforms and applications with heavy social elements, such as Tumblr, Foursquare, Instagram, News.me and Flipboard, picked up users and interest; Facebook acquired Gowalla; and it's rare to see a consumer-facing web product without a strong social element.

Social is still the rage, and a big buzz machine. Columbia University Journalism School's Social Media Weekend, in which I'm participating, has dozens of signups days after opening up seats at $200 each.

Social media are still being integrated into ads, measurement platforms, apps and more.

= = = = =

So, I think I did well enough to pass. If I weight my average so the top is worth more, and you believe my ratings, I'm somewhere around an A-.

I'd love to know your thoughts, and it helps if you #gradeDBenk. I'll give more of my thoughts, looking ahead to 2012, in my next column.

An award-winning former managing editor at ABCNews.com and an MBA (with honors), Dorian Benkoil handles marketing and sales strategies for MediaShift, and is the business columnist for the site. He is SVP at Teeming Media, a strategic media consultancy focused on attracting, engaging, and activating communities through digital media. He tweets at @dbenk and you can Circle him on Google+.

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