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Posts Tagged ‘New York Times’

Huge social shift: Cellphones now used more for data than calls

Posted by andreaitis on May 14, 2010

Phone Prop

Image by jennlynndesign via Flickr

We knew it was coming but now the numbers are in and  it’s official.

We’re well on our way to becoming an incredibly disconnected connected society.

Key stats from a New York Times story:

– Almost 90% of US households have a mobile phone

– Number of households eliminating landlines continues to increase

– Number of voice minutes used by consumers is flat

– Number of text messages sent per  user is up by almost 50%

– Thumb voted ‘favorite digit’ as thumb strength in overall US population is increasing (okay, that wasn’t in the NYT but it’s totally true, right?)

Instead of talking on their cellphones, people are making use of all the extras that iPhones, BlackBerrys and other smartphones were also designed to do — browse the Web, listen to music, watch television, play games and send e-mail and text messages.

[…]

And for the first time in the United States, the amount of data in text, e-mail messages, streaming video, music and other services on mobile devices in 2009 surpassed the amount of voice data in cellphone calls, industry executives and analysts say.

Of course, talking on the cellphone isn’t disappearing entirely. “Anytime something is sensitive or is something I don’t want to be forwarded, I pick up the phone rather than put it into a tweet or a text,” said Kristen Kulinowski, a 41-year-old chemistry teacher in Houston. And calling is cheaper than ever because of fierce competition among rival wireless networks.

via Cellphones Now Used More for Data Than for Calls – NYTimes.com

That chemistry teacher is onto something.  Don’t you agree, Mark Zuckerberg?

Meanwhile, I’m wondering what we lose by replacing talking with texting.    Is a typed exchange a less connected experience?   Does a verbal discussion translate to a deeper relationship?

We have shorter attention spans.  We consume more, more quickly.   We walk looking at our mobile devices rather than our surroundings.    We don’t make eye contact.   We don’t talk as much.  We hear less.

We are separated by a screen.

Status updates and text messages are the new soundbite.  Will that fill us up, or leave us empty?

Posted in Business, technology | Tagged: , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Rupert Murdoch angry at 'content kleptomaniacs' and crazy like a fox

Posted by andreaitis on November 9, 2009

Rupert Murdoch - World Economic Forum Annual M...

Image by World Economic Forum via Flickr

Two pieces of news from the Murdoch empire:

1. New York Post circulation continues its downward death spiral.

Nearly every paper in America has lost circulation, but The Post more than most — down almost 30 percent in 2.5 years, to 508,000 in the most recent reporting period, against 544,000 for The Daily News. The slide accelerated after The Post’s price returned to 50 cents last year. And this year, The Daily News has surged far ahead in online readership.

[New York Post editor] Mr. Allan, who called it “a joyous occasion” when The Post took the lead, now takes a more subdued view of the competition, saying in an e-mail exchange that “whether we are a little in front or a little behind has no impact on our forward business plan.”

Sober Mood at New York Post as Circulation Spirals Lower – New York Times

2. Rupert Murdoch suggests he will remove News Corp. websites from Google and other search engines.  At least, that’s what the headlines are blaring.   Are they jumping the gun?  I think so.

If you listen to the first five minutes of Murdoch’s interview with Sky News political editor David Speers, you hear the following:

–  Speers delivers a classic and very public introductory suck-up,  referring to his interview subject (and big-time boss) as “the world’s most powerful media owner.”

–  Rupert Murdoch says users should not have had free content, that “we’ve been asleep.”  He sees the paywall as long overdue, but says we’ll be surprised by how minimal some of the fees will be.

–  He wants a different kind of audience – not drive-by consumers but loyal and engaged users with high-frequency habits.  Or, at least, users who will open their wallets.

“What’s the point of having someone come occasionally, who likes a headline they see in Google?… The fact is, there’s not enough advertising in the world to go around to make all the websites profitable. We’d rather have fewer people coming to our website, but paying.”

– At this point, Speers raises the Google index question.  When he asks Murdoch why he hasn’t removed News Corp. sites from Google’s search index, Murdoch replies “Well, I think we will.  But that’s when we start charging…”

BUT Murdoch doesn’t stop there.  He goes on, indicating that perhaps he didn’t fully understand Speers’ question.  They clearly were not communicating on the same, uh,  Google wavelength.

“…We do it already with the Wall Street Journal. We have a wall but it’s not right to the ceiling. You can get usually the first paragraph of any story, but then if you’re not a paying subscriber of wsj.com there’s immediately… a paragraph and a subscription form.”

Does that sound like he doesn’t want News Corp. content to appear in Google or Microsoft search results?  Nope.

Speers follows up, asking  if this is the model we should expect to see.  Murdoch’s clear as mud answer: “Maybe, maybe.” He mumbles something about the Fair Use Doctrine and taking it slowly.

So all those headlines shouting about Murdoch pulling his sites out of Google?  Not quite accurate.

When you take another  look at the comment from New York Post editor Col Allan, it all starts to make a bit of sense: “…whether we are a little in front or a little behind has no impact on our forward business plan.”

It seems Rupert Murdoch is saying size doesn’t matter.  It’s quality of audience, not quantity. The only quantity he wants is the dollars from subscribers, in both micro and macro payments.  Perhaps he’d rather build audiences that are meaningful, loyal and consistent because these are audiences that can be sold and targeted to an advertiser.

Will he pull all of his sites out of Google?  I doubt it.  When he refers to “content kleptomaniacs”  I’d venture he means not the initial link, but the pay-off link to the full story that is currently not providing a pay-out to the content creator or publisher.

Rupert Murdoch is bold and brash.  He is not stupid.   He is approaching the digital news  problem the same way he approached his move into television:   just because this is the way it’s being done doesn’t mean it’s the way it has to be done.

Remember when ABC, NBC and CBS were the only three networks?   Remember when CNN and MSNBC were the only dominant news players on cable?

I worked at Fox while Rupert Murdoch was transforming it.   I remember when he announced he was going to start a new cable news channel.  I walked through that studio as it was being built.  Murdoch is a challenger, even when the status has barely reached the quo.   I’m not counting him out just yet, and neither should you.

Watch the first five minutes of his interview with David Speers and you’ll see what I mean.

[youtubevid id=”M7GkJqRv3BI”]

Posted in Business, technology | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

NYT editor started reading 'mostly digital news' 3 weeks ago. Contemplating cellular phone next.

Posted by andreaitis on October 20, 2009

The headline caught my eye:  Bill Keller trying to read the Times “mostly in digital forms”.

Aged news.  That’s my first thought.  I mean, The Daily Show’s Jason Jones took New York Times Executive Editor Bill  Keller d-o-w-n when TDS invaded the NYT newsroom.

“Trying.”   That’s my second thought.  He’s trying to read the New York Times in digital form? I mean, how hard can it be?

Poorly written headline.  That’s my third thought.  I must be misreading that headline.  On to the story:

John Temple, former publisher of the defunct Rocky Mountain News, suggested in July that newspaper editors spend time exclusively reading news on the web, but Keller (and Times managing editor Jill Abramson) are the first I know who have tried it. I emailed Keller to see how the experiment is going, and he obliged with some observations on comprehensiveness, serendipity, and the “balky and drab” experience of reading the Times on a Kindle:

New York Times Executive Editor Bill Keller

It’s been about three weeks of consuming my NYT (and competition) mostly in digital forms: desktop (the website proper), TimesReader (on a notebook), iPhone and Kindle. In truth, I cheat some on weekends. I love print, and while this experience is making me appreciate more the versatility and creativity of our web staff, nothing has yet made me love print less.

via Bill Keller trying to read the Times “mostly in digital forms” » Nieman Journalism Lab

Brain overload:

1.  Yes, headline is correct.  He’s trying to read news in digital form…

2.  …for three weeks?  THREE weeks???

3.  Someone had to suggest he do this?!?!?

Love print all you want, Mr. Keller.  I love it, too.  Doesn’t mean I’m clinging to it on the cold hard streets outside the unemployment office which I can’t get into because there’s a long line ahead of other people who loved – and lost – print.   What’s that expression about loving something so much you have to set it free, and if it comes back it’s meant to be?

It’s not coming back, Mr. Keller.   Consider these three weeks your printervention.

Posted in Business | Tagged: , , , , , | 8 Comments »

Text messaging makes children and journalists more impulsive

Posted by andreaitis on August 11, 2009

text girl

Image by uberculture via Flickr

Okay, I added the journalist part but according to a new study, the rest is true.   Using mobile phones can change how your brain works.   How many journalists do you know who do NOT use mobile phones?  You can see the logic already.

This new research is rising up from down under.  Researchers at Monash University in Melbourne, Australia studied the mobile phone use of children between 11 and 14 and their ability to carry out a series of computer tests.   They found text messaging and predictive text messaging lead children to behave impulsively and make mistakes.

When researchers studied the way in which the children handled IQ-type tests they found that increased mobile phone use appears to change the way their brains work.

Prof Abramson, an epidemiologist at Monash University, Melbourne, Australia, said: “The kids who used their phones a lot were faster on some of the tests, but were less accurate.

“We suspect that using mobile phones a lot, particularly tools like predictive texts for SMS, is training them to be fast but inaccurate.

via Mobile phone text messaging is making children more impulsive, claim researchers – Telegraph

Fast but inaccurate.  Hello, Alessandra Stanley?  To quote the New York Times’ Clark Hoyt quoting Alessandra Stanley in response to her very own Walter Cronkite Seven Errors Saga:

Stanley said she was writing another article on deadline at the same time and hurriedly produced the appraisal, sending it to her editor with the intention of fact-checking it later. She never did.

“This is my fault,” she said. “There are no excuses.”

In her haste, she said, she looked up the dates for two big stories that Cronkite covered — the assassination of Martin Luther King and the moment Neil Armstrong set foot on the moon — and copied them incorrectly. She wrote that Cronkite stormed the beaches on D-Day when he actually covered the invasion from a B-17 bomber. She never meant that literally, she said. “I didn’t reread it carefully enough to see people would think he was on the sands of Omaha Beach.”

The Public Editor – How Did This Happen? – Op-Ed – NYTimes.com

Alessandra Stanley behaved impulsively and made mistakes.   I’m betting she not only uses a mobile phone, but has also done some text messaging.  I don’t know this for a fact, but you can see how the new study may explain recent journalistic errors.   Now she can change her response: It’s not my fault! There is an excuse!  We can put the blame right where it belongs: on technology and science.

This is your brain.   This is your brain on mobile phone.

I’d research all this a bit further but I’ve got to text, twitter and check Facebook right now.

Posted in technology | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 5 Comments »

Traditional media makes an untraditional move

Posted by andreaitis on May 26, 2009

First, the June 1 cover of The New Yorker is created using a $4.99 iPhone app.

Now, the New York Times has hired a social media editor.

Right about here someone should yell “Stop the presses!”.

As readwriteweb.com notes:

It has come to this; the flagship institution of traditional journalism now has an editor level position dedicated to new media.

Little is known about Preston’s personal use of social media, she’s either using aliases or is remarkably quiet around the web, and details are still forthcoming about the new position she’ll fill. The Times has done a remarkable job of engaging with social media so far, though, and we have high hopes for this new post.

Preston has worked at the New York Times for more than a decade, and spent the last two years running the regional weekly sections and content for nytimes.com/intheregion.  She’s also an adjunct professor at Columbia University and a book author.   When RWW did some due diligence on her social media prowess, this is what they found:

She has a private Twitter account that she’s just begun to open up this morning – but apparently she hasn’t published any tweets there yet, ever. She is following almost 160 people so far, though, far more than are following her to date. So she could be using it for listening.

She’s also got a private FriendFeed account, a private Yahoo account and an unused Tumblr account. The BackType comment search engine can’t find any comments she’s left on blogs around the web.

After this announcement, her Twitter followers shot up to over 2000, and she was actively engaging with twitterers in her debut as Social Media Editor.

Two  steps forward in this expect-the-unexpected week.  Are they gimmicks, shallow nods…or a real effort to move beyond the page?  Does it really matter?  It’ll get people talking and thinking and perhaps push others to do something unexpected and untraditional.   Traditional media needs to try and test and tamper, to experiment and maybe even blow up now and then.    You gotta light the match before you start the fire.  And lord knows, there’s plenty of paper to burn.

Posted in media, technology | Tagged: , , , , | 1 Comment »

News, Algorithms and the Human Touch

Posted by andreaitis on May 12, 2009

With the rise of self-publishing tools and the decline of traditional newsrooms, the editor’s role  has been rigorously debated.  Today, looking at the latest updates to Google News, there is a loud voice saying the editor is not just a nice-to-have, but a must-have.  Why, you ask?  According to Techcrunch, Google News “still sucks” for  one reason:  no human touch.

Google News

The problem is that Google uses an algorithm to do this clustering. As the vastly superior news aggregator Techmeme, learned quite a while ago, there needs to be some human curation involved. While an algorithm may not be able to see the difference in iPhone stories (or Microsoft stories, or anything else in my example for that matter), a human could.

Further, the biggest problem with Google News when it comes to tech news is that many of the items that appear are laughably old. It’s fine if you want to say it’s for the masses to get a better overview of what’s going on, but at least indicate that these topics aren’t breaking items just because some site decided to write about it again a day or two days or a week after someone else published the story first.

via Google News Gets An Update. Still Sucks.

I  have long been frustrated by the Google News implementation.  But it’s been the only option for so long that we simply lower our expectations and adjust to the suckage.  To me, that’s the core issue with Google products: they make users adjust to them, rather than modifying their products to better meet consumer need.  They never actually finish a product.  They’ll get about 80% there, slap a Beta label on it and call it a day.  Meanwhile, the last 20% is typically the most important (and the hardest).  These are the details that make something fit, that make users nod their heads and smile, that build loyalty and frequency.   Google seems to lose patience and steam, and just move on.   We are left with a product that has great potential, but never really fits.

The algorithm, for example, is a great foundation. To make the Google News experience sing (or at least hum), it needs to have some human filtering, a feed of HSS instead of RSS.  The New York Times is moving in this direction with their brand new launch of  TimesWire.   And, of course, we have our True/Slant Network Activity Feed.

Will these replace Google News?  No.  But the door is open for alternatives and experimentation. Google will have to evolve more aggressively to keep ahead, figuring out along the way how to include the various rivers and streams of news.   With hope, entering a new phase of  human touch tech.

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