Archive

Posts Tagged ‘mobile’
24 May

My Google Glass app ideas for different news orgs



Google Glass is clearly in its early stages, but it is emerging as a platform that merits our attention as news and information distributors.

The NYTimes has an app, but I think it really falls short of understanding and using this new platform.

Inspired by Thomas Baekdal‘s Google Glass for news post, here are my Glass app ideas for other news orgs… to help spark ideas and conversation.

These app ideas are practical and based on reality… not hypothetical futuristic dream apps.

// LATimes (or any regional/local news org)
Offer the Glass user an app card with trending/editor selected keywords/topics. The Los Angeles Times already does the keyword selection with their sub-navigation called “trending now.” Today’s (5/23) included: L.A. Mayor’s race, U.S. drones, Boy Scouts, London Attack, Helen Mirren, Lebron James.

Via Glass, the user could say, “Okay LATimes, tell me about [TOPIC]” and it will load the headline and nutgraph… it will of course offer a longer version of the story, perhaps in audio form.

Newspapers and print media also have an opportunity with Glass to embed and launch multimedia elements like videos or photo galleries from their print pages. ​That QR code may finally have value!

 

// NPR
This one, for now, is the most traditional app to do. The app is a card that plays, when a user opts in, the latest Hourly News Summary that is traditionally read on the air.

These apps are fairly simple tapping into the existing technology and framework. These do not are not “futuristic” apps. Naturally, if we tap into the GPS, we can create an app that brings you the latest news from “around you.”

 

// @BreakingNews (or other breaking news Twitter accounts)
The obvious option for this essential Twitter account is just to notify the Glass user with every breaking news tweet… but that can be overwhelming.

I’d suggest creating an app where the tweets that get the most retweets at a faster rate get a category of “important,” and those items notify the Glass user. Think of the classic breaking news interruption.

 

// Circa news app
This new news platform is actually a great fit for Glass. They have broken down a story into bullet points, and they add points to the story as it develops. It knows what you’ve read about the story when you return.

What they should offer is a list of headlines, and, as you do know, you can follow the story for updates. Their app would notify you when a story has been updated. Since the information is a bullet point, it wouldn’t be overwhelming.

 

// Newsbound
This visual-storytelling platform presents information like a PowerPoint presentation, but it’s compelling. What’s also powerful about this format is that these slides add up to tell a long form piece.

Yes, long form storytelling for Glass.

 

// SoundGecko
If a visual version of long form doesn’t work, check out SoundGecko, which converts text — any text — into audio.

Yes, at this stage it’s like Siri trying to read you a story, but when you are on the go and you actually want to consume a long form piece, this new technology may be good enough.

 

Well, since I am pitching Glass app ideas, here are some more “future” and obvious ones:

  • Eventually be apps that are ​GPS aware to give information/news feeds.
  • Based on video’s audio as a timeline, tie bonus material content to the broadcast news story. (This already happens with DVDs/movies and will eventually become available to us.)
  • In terms of TV production, have Glass replace the TV new anchor’s Teletrompter and ear piece.

Two extremely obvious and simple ones:

  • ​Live stream a press conference, but audio quality is not ideal. You can at least do a live POV shot of a scene.
  • Using Glass as your second screen as you watch a live event either on TV on in person… like we do with tweets via hashtag.

I hope news organizations take advantage of this new type of platform and I look forward to what we will produce.

Personally, as a Google Glass Explorer (which gives me the “privilege” to buy and experiment with Glass early), I can’t wait to try these things out to see what works and what doesn’t.

13 May

Google Glass in context

Comments off

I want you to take a moment and recognize something: Google Glass looks as technologically cutting-edge as the first Motorola Razr did in 2004.

This incredibly thin phone, which was a leap from its predecessor Motorola StarTAC, was fashionable and functional, making it the best-selling clamshell phone in the world to date and causing a dent into Nokia’s indestructible brick phones.

Everyone had to have one and no one could believe how small it was.

For some tech context, in 2004 Google was still a private company.

iTunes was finally was made compatible with Windows machines, which made the iPod have its largest year since its launch in 2001.

AOL was still known as America Online.

The New York Times, and many other sites, looked like this: http://web.archive.org/web/20040306074613/http://www.nytimes.com/

We thought we knew tech. I thought we were in the future because I could text a question to GOOGLE and get an answer back.

(For more context, know that Facebook in 2011 was as big as the entire Internet was in 2004.)

Now, I want you to realize that Google Glass is at an earlier stage than that. Much earlier.

Think Zack Morris phone.

Think back when mobile phones were just for yuppies.

Who would ever want to carry a phone around with them?

Only those elitist businesses people who can afford that ridiculous technology… like Gordon Gekko

Check out this report on cellphones and yuppies:



Anyway you look at it, Glass is in its early stages. And it will soon look so outdated. It’ll look like the first iPod.

Embarrassingly dated.

Zack_Morris_Glass

(Don’t get me started on the short-lived pagers.)

15 Jul

iPhone trick: How to listen to YouTube videos while multitasking or locked screen

UPDATE: With YouTube no longer being part of iOS’ core, this trick no longer works in iOS 6.

I accidentally found this trick earlier today and I thought it was worth sharing… I’m not sure if it’s common knowledge. (NOTE: I do see there are some older posts about this, but it was new to me and maybe you.)

Basically, with this trick, you can continue listening to a YouTube video via your iOS device even though you “quit” the app, are in another app or have shut off or locked your screen.

Here’s a how-to video:

Step-by-step instructions:
1. Launch the YouTube App and play a song.

2. Quit the app by click on the home button.

3. Lock your phone.

4. Double click on your home button.

5. Press play and enjoy the music!

Bonus tips:
– Also, make sure you do Step 2 by clicking the home button. That want, when you unlock your phone, you can jump into any other app and multitask while jamming.

– You can create a playlist via YouTube… but, in some tests, it didn’t automatically go to the next song. You have to skip to next song before current song stops.

This is the poor man’s Spotify… Hope you find it useful.

08 Dec

The GoPano Micro could be awesome, but still has a bit to go

GoPano MicroI just got a new tech toy in the mail that I think could be pretty effective in journalism.

“Could” is the key word.

The GoPano Micro (around $80) allows your iPhone to record and upload 360 videos that lets users to zoom in/out and scroll while watching the video. (I didn’t know this, but they have adapters and software made for better-than-iPhone cameras.)

It’s pretty easy to install and start recording. First, you snap on an iPhone cover and pop in the periscope-looking lens. Then you install the app and creating an account. That’s it… you are ready to go.

You can record, view and share your 360 videos through your phone. The videos are even embeddable.

It’s all pretty simple.

Except for one significant issue… the image focus is not good. It’s bad.

Here are two tests I did:
USC Heritage Hall

My USC office

The @GoPano Twitter account did respond to my request for times on how to improve the focus by providing me with these links:

  • http://support.gopano.com/customer/portal/topics/98224-gopano-micro/articles
  • http://blog.gopano.com/2011/10/20/where_have_my_pixels_gone/
  • http://support.gopano.com/customer/portal/articles/221550-how-to-manually-calibrate-the-gopano-micro
  • They didn’t really improve anything, but I appreciate their responsiveness.

    I think software/app tweaks could really improve this device. Perhaps allow touch focusing as the video is recording… that way we can really control what gets in focus, rather then everything slightly blurry.

    If the quality of the image improves, I can easily see this in a variety news situations and events. Can you imagine how awesome this would be in the middle of a riot?

    Outside of the obvious need to improve the image, the next cool feature would be to live stream the 360 video.

    There is no doubt that the technology is coming… I just wish it got here with my GoPano Micro.

    12 Mar

    Tips and tricks for a successful SXSWi 2010

    Comments off

    NOTE: Originally published on Online Journalism Review: http://www.ojr.org/ojr/people/webjournalist/201103/1950/

    Robert Hernandez: Well Pekka, we are just a few days away from the SXSW / SXSWi 2010 conference … aka Geek Spring Break. We’ve both been to the festival before and, for this post, are going to interview each other to share tips, experiences, goals, etc. as we do final preparations for the week. Let’s start with sharing our experiences. What number is this one for you? How many times have you attended?

    Pekka Pekkala: This is my number three, did first one back in ’96! I was a starving student, so no Interactive tickets for me, just free music… You?

    RH: For me, this is going to be my second. I was a n00b last year, a rookie. And, boy, did I learn a lot … and think I’m ready for the coming week.

    How would you describe the conference to people? Mainly SXSWi.

    PP: Best place to meet people like you who are not journalists. It’s really a good way to mingle with programmers and business-savvy people who understand content. And a total 5-day hurricane of seminars, meetups and parties.

    RH: A ‘hurricane’ is a great way to describe it … tech, smarts, hipster glasses and more. I was really overwhelmed last year, attending so many different, random sessions and meeting great people. I have really started to prepare for this year.

    For me, I think it’s an international meetup of innovative minds that mashup technology, business, art, culture, news and information. The Future of Journalism has been officially added as a track this year. I got inspired last year and hope that happens again.

    PP: What did you pick from the Future of Journalism track? Is it all the same people that you’ve seen in journalism seminars before?

    RH: Well, I have to be honest… half of the sessions did not resonate with me. Some of same ol’ same ol’ topics … and some things that aren’t really reflective of the topic. That said, there are some that I hope to attend. Naturally, I want to attend a breaking/late addition: Lessons Learned from the ‘Arab Spring Revolutions with Mashable‘s Vadim Lavrusik among other panelists. I’m a super NPR and Public Media fan and see a lot of sessions related to that, so I plan to attend those. I also am thinking of attending The Death of the Death of Longform Journalism, Conde Nast in Start Up Mode, and Hacking the News: Applying Computer Science to Journalism panels. Here’s a link to my SXSW schedule: http://schedule.sxsw.com/user_events/user_8645 Here is my event calendar: http://bit.ly/eaj5EK

    Are you attending the journalism ones?

    PP: There’s a lot of good stuff there, but I couldn’t help noticing the vast amount of consultants / inspirational speaker types. I’m trying to find the people who are actually making stuff and creating financially sustainable sites. So I’m probably hopping between the Journo and Business tracks a lot. My calendar here: http://schedule.sxsw.com/user_events/user_dc1b96a2231851a7ebe0e02fe4a0b1a5

    RH: Yes, I noticed that too. Did you notice the number of advertising panels that suggested storytelling and journalism as the answer? Brand Journalism: The Rise of Non-Fiction Advertising is the session that surprised me. Journalism to save advertising? I might have to check it out.

    PP: Umm… yes. That sounds like a trap :D I’m more interested in Free Your Content! Who Really Owns UGC? session. :)

    RH: Ha! Speaking of ‘trap’ the beauty of SXSWi is the randomness of some of these sessions. I have a few personal interest ones I hope to attend like, Star Wars Uncut: The Force of Crowdsourcing. Other personal picks are: A panel about an audio-only video game, a TRON session (yes, I’m a geek!), trends in Internet art and hearing from the ad agency behind the Old Spice guy ads. Do you have some random panels that peaked your interest?

    PP: Yes. My advice would be to pick some big names you haven’t heard yet. I’m trying to see at least Bram Cohen (BitTorrent), Jason Calacanis (Mahalo), Clay Shirky (NYU) and Christopher Poole (4chan). Secondly, pick some really weird stuff like “Singularity,” “Synthetic Life” or “IBM: What is Watson?” sessions. Thirdly, do some boring stuff just for networking. Which is not really that boring in SXSW atmosphere.

    RH: I attended a session last year led by Jonathan Stark, who taught how to do an easy iPhone app … the guy has written several books about designing/building apps and will be a panelist on the Building Native Apps Across Platforms session. Also, I have to promo the Social Network Users’ Bill of Rights session with USC’s Prof. Jack Lerner and Lisa Borodkin, both have spoken to my classes numerous times about media law.

    Can you talk about your goals and strategy for SXSW? What do you hope to learn and get from going to this conference? What is your strategy behind what sessions you try to attend?

    PP: I always try to get away from the journalist mindset: I’m really scared of the journo hive mentality in every aspect. Mix it up! Trying to find some interesting cases to be interviewed for my Sustainable Business Models for Journalism study. Bootstrappers and small sites mainly. What about you?

    RH: Yes, agreed. The session I pick tend to be more techie… I like to go to ones where I learn something new and, ideally, I can find ways to incorporate it into journalism… long before someone else even thinks about that angle. Right now I’m obsessing about Augmented Reality, and there are several sessions on that… mainly on biz/dev side. My goal is to learn more and more coding, building… and that tech constantly evolves. Last year I attended a great HTML5 vs. Flash panel … this year I hope to attend a few of those. Anything that experiments and pushes me to grow and think about the mashup of technology, design and information. Lots to choose from… and, sadly, some are at the same time!

    PP: Sounds like a cool plan and something SXSW is really good for! Last year I went to Jaron Lanier speech and right after it (the cyncical journo in me) was saying “blah, another hippie from the Bay area saying you guys spoiled our Internet.” But the stuff he said really haunted me somehow and now I’m turning into a hippie myself. :D Ted Nelson FTW!

    RH: He’s an extremely interesting guy. He recommended reading The Machine Stops … a must read for tech people.

    Let’s get to some tips … what apps/tools do you use when at the conference? Now and while attending? What tips do you have while there?

    PP: Just mark down everything that looks interesting via the SXSW schedule page, download the mobile app and off you go. Having a plan doesn’t mean you have to go according to it but it helps to visualize what is going on. It’s a shame sxsw.lanyrd.com doesn’t sync with SXSW schedule, would be great. Any cool apps you’ve found?

    RH: Exactly right, I’ve signed up for a ton of things … who knows if I’ll attend them. But at least I know what’s, generally, out there. Last year’s app was, well, less than satisfying. That said, I’ve download this year’s version and it looks much better. I’ve used the official session selector. But I have to also pass along a great recommendation from SXSW veterans that recommended sched.org because it includes *all* events, even the many unofficial ones. I also used SitBy.Us last year and thought that was very cool. I’ll be tweeting and checking in on FourSquare, of course. Mashable has a SXSWi great guide, which has a good collection of apps/tools.

    PP: Sched.org looks cool, have to try that one. Being from Finland, I have to plug @dittoapp! Any tips how to survive the physical aspect of SXSW, meaning the walking, not sleeping and forgetting your gear in the cab at 1am? (I’m still pissed I lost my FAIL book with Ben Huh‘s autograph last year!)

    RH: Oh yeah… I learned you have to ditch the laptop! I have a shoulder that is about one inch lower than the other because I’ve carried a messenger bag with my laptop for years. Skip that! This year I’m rolling with just my iPad and iPhone. I also bought an external battery to charge them both :) I’m still traveling with my laptop, in case my plan backfires. Also, wear comfortable shoes, ’cause these will be looooong, fun days. I just downloaded Ditto (but it keeps crashing).

    PP: iPad 2 I hope, it’s SXSWi! I find it hilarious when people take iPhone, iPad and MacBook out in a seminar: tech is supposed to make your life easier, not _literally_ harder :D I’m taking my Droid 2 Global (physical keyboard is still WINNING) + charger. Travel light.

    RH: Let’s end with this question… how will you know you’ve had a successful SXSW 2010 experience?

    PP: I fall asleep in the plane before it takes off from Austin. And when I’m home, I notice my brain is a mess of weird ideas and my pockets are full of business cards with hastily written notes on them. You?

    RH: Ha! Well said. For me, if I feel like I’ve learned some new things and expanded my network of smart innovators, it’s been a success. I want to walk away energized and ready to go try some new tech experiments.

    Well, sir, it was great chatting with you and I’ll see you in Austin!

    PP: Same here, can’t wait! Let’s keep in touch via Twitter! @pekkapekkala

    RH: Yes. I’m @webjournalist

    25 Oct

    Tips and tools to innovate with during election night coverage

    Comments off

    NOTE: Originally ran on Online Journalism Review: http://www.ojr.org/ojr/people/webjournalist/201010/1900/

    In our world, there is no better story that reflects the power and value of good journalism like an election.

    Regardless of the medium, the stories from an election can include investigative pieces, people profiles, contextual stories, and, because politicians are so colorful, stories of the weird.

    Put these under an umbrella of breaking news and see us do our thing.

    The midterm elections are just around the corner and they have proven to live up to a newsy season. By now many of us have established a general plan for election night coverage.

    But to help foster innovation and advancement in journalism, last’s week #wjchat, a weekly chat about Web journalism held through Twitter, had its first Elex Exchange where we shared ideas and tools to help with this year’s coverage.

    Inspired by the chat, here’s a list taking advantage of the latest technology to help election.

    TWITTER // reporting + distribution
    It’s a basic tool that should be part of your daily journalism routine, but Twitter is still best tool for covering a real-time news event, especially when covering breaking news or election.

    As written before, Twitter is the tool to help you find sources and trends in real-time. Either by zip code or by topics/keywords, make sure you are using and monitoring Twitter throughout the election. Use a Twitter-client like TweetDeck with predetermine searches that you occasionally check on.


    The next basic minimum is to have a Twitter feed on your homepage specifically for the election coverage. No programming is required to create this widget, you just need to decide whether you want public tweets with a hashtag or you want to create a list of the accounts that will appear in the feed.

    Either way, Twitter has got you covered with their ‘goodies.’ Make sure you take the time to customize the colors to have it match your site design.

    If you haven’t yet, check to see if a hashtag or hashtags relating to your local races have been created by the community. If no one has, create them right away. If someone beat you to it, don’t worry and embrace them… but either way start using them NOW!

    This simple act gives you a head start in becoming the lead authority on these races, in social media and beyond.

    Take a page from the Pulitzer Prize winners for Breaking News, seattletimes.com, and get in the habit of creating and using hashtags when covering all types of news.

    FOURSQUARE // geolocation + distribution
    This election season, news outlets should create ‘check-in’ places for polling locations in their town. The geolocation community is small but growing and will be checking in as they go to vote. Like a hashtag, if you don’t create a location, they will.

    Become the leader in coverage by not only creating the locations but add a tip (Ex. Tip links to LAT story about Venice Beach fight) that links back to your site’s live, active, up-to-date election coverage.

    Remember, by having these locations, you can also find potential sources as they check in to the venues.

    USTREAM // live streaming
    Who says TV broadcast gets to have all the fun with their live coverage. Okay, it may not be your idea of fun, but live streaming is a tool more newsrooms need to embrace. No expensive satellites required, services like Ustream allow you to do a live shot from your newsroom with a laptop and camera or from your smart phone.

    Stream the candidates’ celebratory or concession speech election night live straight onto your homepage. It’s easy and it should be another standard tool in your journalistic toolbox.

    CROWDMAP // crowdsource reporting + mapping
    This tool comes from Sarah Day Owen, #wjchat colleague and Augusta Chronicle‘s Social Media Editor, who heard about it from the new hyperlocal site TDB in Washington D.C. She is hoping to experiment with this tool that takes crowdsourced information from cell phones, news and the web and maps them.

    This application, originally built to crowdsource crisis information, begs to be used by news outlets, especially for something like election coverage. It’s free and pretty simple to setup… so you still have time to pull this off. Even if you don’t get participation from the community, get your reporters to file dispatches.

    STICKYBITS // social media + user-generated content
    I recently wrote about this tool and want news organizations to experiment with it, so here’s a second pitch.

    Like Twitter’s hashtag or FourSquares’s digital makers, create your own barcode and literally post it at as many polling places in your town, asking a question (Ex.: What do you hope comes out of this election?) and a note encouraging them to download the stickybits app and upload their responses. See if you get people in your community adding election related “bits” – video, text, photos, audio, etc. – to your barcode.

    IMAPFLICKR // user-generated photos + geolocation
    Okay, so getting the community to download an app to scan a barcode then post a message is a sizable hurdle (I know, but try it anyway!), so here is a simpler tool that takes a Flickr feed and maps it.

    In other words, you can open up a Flickr account and have people submit photos from polling places and get them mapped. Like the Twitter feed, no programming is required and the biggest decision you have to make is whether or not you make this a public or staff driven feed.

    PHOTOSYNTH // photo + crowdsourcing + magic
    This tool, originally created by the University of Washington before it was purchased by Microsoft, is something I’ve been trying to push into newsrooms’ toolboxes for years. It finally made its mainstream debut with CNN’s “The Moment” in 2008, but hasn’t been used much in news since.

    It may not work perfectly in this scenario, but I would remiss if I didn’t mention it. PhotoSynth takes a collection of photos – from different contributors – of one location and “stitches” them together to create a virtual experiment.

    So, let’s say we’re at a candidate’s headquaters for the party… take a ton if photos of the scene, throw them into this program and post an experience like no other. It’s more powerful if you crowdsourced the images.

    STORIFY // social media + curating (Invitation required)
    The great thing about Twitter and other social media networks is the real-time stream of content that flows out of them, often like a fire hose of information. The bad thing about these tools is the content can get drowned out rather quickly. Storify, who’s creator we profiled recently, is a tool that let’s you build a story through social media elements, adding context and comments around elements from Twitter, YouTube, Flickr and more.

    You create an article on their site, but you embed the created piece on yours. It’s in beta and there are a few limitations with it, but if you want to tell the story of how the election night was covered through social media, this is the tool to use.

    Do you have a tool you plan to use? Have you experimented with these? What examples of great election coverage have you seen? Make sure you add your thoughts and experiences in the comments, before and after the election.

    Robert Hernandez is a Web Journalism professor at USC Annenberg and co-creator of #wjchat, a weekly chat for Web Journalists held on Twitter. You can contact him by e-mail (r.hernandez@usc.edu) or through Twitter (@webjournalist). Yes, he’s a tech/journo geek.

    07 May

    Real-Time Reporting, the next level of journalism

    Comments off

    I don’t know if this post will make sense, but let’s just call this a rough draft of a rant… or prediction… or I don’t know what. I just wanted to put some thoughts down, no matter how raw, because we’re on the verge of some significant changes.

    I was asked recently by the Online News Association to lead a session on Social Network Reporting (SNR). That’s when we as journalists harness the power of Social Media throughout our process – looking for sources, crowd sourcing, distributing content, engaging with our community, etc.

    I’ve done several presentations for classes and a couple of workshops, but the request was to be more “advanced” … not SNR101, but the next level.

    The thing is SNR is actually very simple and built on basic concepts. After you understand the power and value of Social Media, learn the lingo and play with the tools, there isn’t much else to learn. Just make it part of your journalism routine.

    In other words, there’s not really an “advanced” to SNR except maybe experimenting with the latest tools and apps.

    But the idea got me thinking… While SNR is an incredibly valuable tool, one that is still being under utilized… it’s really still just a tool… and it’s a tool inside a toolbox that I am labeling Real-Time Reporting (RTR).

    For me, that is the “advanced” level. That’s the next logical step for us.

    The Real-Time Web is a concept that has solidified because of Social Media. What are you doing now? What do you think now? And this applies to us in journalism because it’s the same behavior as breaking news.

    Social Media is key. But there are other aspects to explore in this real-time reality.

    As journalists, RTR takes the latest from technology (hardware, software and infrastructure) and mashes it up with our core journalistic values (news judgment, ethics, law, spelling/grammar, etc.).

    It’s journalism without a safety net… it’s hyperlocal AND global journalism… it’s working under the deadline of now, in 15 minutes and 15 minutes ago… it’s MacGyvering technology to do journalism by any means necessary.

    Let me give you an example.

    Let’s say there is a breaking news story. Let’s imagine that there is a shooting at a local mall. We hear the news breaking on the police scanner.

    Typically, the Metro/Assignment desk immediately dispatches a reporter or crew to go to the scene. Meanwhile, someone calls the authorities to get the latest information on the record.

    Eventually the reporter arrives at the scene and begins to hunt for witnesses and sources. As they get information, they file it or call it in… well, they should. Or, if they are broadcast, they do a live report when they have gathered enough information.

    With SNR, in addition to calling the authorities for official information, someone is also searching Twitter, Flickr, and other social media looking for people at the scene… looking for potential sources. They should also be asking for any tips and contacts through their social networks… and ask the community to spread the call for help.

    When the reporter eventually makes the scene, they should announce their arrival, location and availability on their own social networks… this allows potential sources to reach out.

    The news organization should make sure to take the time to thank those in the community who helped with the coverage. It should also promote the pieces, which essentially distributes the work.

    In addition to the real-time of social media, there are new tools we should employ when appropriate… which takes this to RTR.

    A reporter can be sending out images or live video (UStream, Qik, Twitcasting, etc.) from their cell phones. A photographer or reporter could be automatically uploading images from their camera using technology like the Eye-Fi.

    If they had a laptop, camera and stronger Internet access, they could do a more complex live shot that includes participation from the audience… a live chat from the scene.

    I can’t wait for the day when a low-end camcorder is going to have an external mic jack for better audio and the ability to upload immediately… we’re almost there. Kodak’s Zi8 and the Eye-Fi would be powerful together… but they currently don’t work together.

    People chuckle when I pitched this, but I foresee the day when a device becomes THE reporter’s super notebook. A laptop is too heavy, Internet connections are unpredictable and it needs a power source. Meanwhile, a smart phone is too small, horrible to type on and needs to be recharged often.

    In the meantime, technology is giving us patchwork solutions. The MiFi from Verizon and Sprint gives you broadband anywhere. There are external batteries that keep your iPhone and laptops charged for longer periods of time. You can buy accessories to like an external keyboard for you phone or an app to sync your iPhone camera to your cameraless iPad.

    But it is only a matter of time when text, photos, audio and video are available in an appropriate sized device that easily takes journalists to the next level… real-time reporting.

    And when this technology arrives, it will really begin to separate those who can produce quality journalism on deadline from those who can’t. It will test our core values. There are a lot of challenges when you go live… lots of opportunities to fail… to get wrong. So we need to be at the top of our game to build and maintain our credibility.

    Professional journalists – with or without formal training – will emerge as they are no longer worried about technology they routinely use. We’re not going to be wow’ed or scared by the latest device. We’ll just embrace it and return the focus on the content… because it’s always been about the content.

    I don’t know if this made any sense… or if this future scares you… or if you are as excited about it as I am… but I believe this is where we are headed.

    Journalism continues to evolve… are you ready for the next level?

    28 Jan

    Two business card alternatives: Save the trees, embrace the geekiness

    My paper contacts in my office.

    A few months ago, I uploaded a photo of my trusty, old Rolodex onto Facebook.

    Over the years I have met some great people, collected a ton of business cards and attempted to alphabetize them in my Rolodex.

    That alphabetizing part only lasted about 20 minutes some ten years ago.

    Since then, I have had piles from different conferences strategically growing on my desk, in my backpack and around my Rolodex.

    So, if business cards don’t work for me, what would?

    Here are two ways I’ve begun sharing my contact info. Both of these I learned from people at I’ve meet at conferences.

    The first is the extremely, iPhone-geeky-awesome Bump. This was introduced to me by David Stanton (@gotoplanb), Poynter Institute and University of Florida instructor, and all around cool tech guy. We met at AEJMC and sure, it probably took longer than physically swapping business cards, using the bump was much more fun. More importantly, it gets the contact information into your phone!

    Why is it called Bump? To swap info, each iPhone user first loads up the free app, establishes a connection, then does a fist bump. Okay, the fist bump is actually optional… but the gesture/motion between the two iPhones triggers the app to look for a receiver/sender and syncs up the info. [See the video]

    The second is simply, simple and I can’t believe it is free. At this year’s CES, I met some great L.A. tech folks, including Lisa Borodkin (@lisaborodkin). She’s an Entertainment + new media law and policy expert that is jumping into Web journalism reporting for LAist.

    I didn’t believe her, but she asked me to text her first name to get a text back with her contact info. I did it, it worked. I set mine up.

    Contxts is awesome. The downside: it’s in the SMS side of your phone, not contact side. But, it’s in your phone and adding it to your contacts shouldn’t take too long.

    How’s it work, exactly? Just have people text your name/code to 50500 and boom, they get your info. I got greedy, so I have two accounts: webjournalist and roberth.

    Try ’em out and tell me what you think.

    There are TONS of alternatives to business cards swaps, and these are just two I’ve played with. Which ones have you used? What do you recommend we try or try to avoid?

    Let’s do what we can to save the trees… and embrace your inner geek.

    27 Jan

    Apple’s iPad matches hype, but it’s no print industry savior

    NYTimes created an iPad app that takes advantage of the new platform.

    NYTimes created an iPad app that takes advantage of the new platform.

    Well, it surely doesn’t have the best name, but the much anticipated, the much rumored and the much hyped iPad is finally here.

    For those in the newspaper and magazine industries, the iPad has been championed as the device that will save them from bankruptcy. For those who knew of Tablets PC from years ago, this was going to be a flop.

    My impression: Damn, it’s slick!

    First, snap out of it… this will not save the print industry. Stop it. Who are you kidding? Content is, for the most part, the same as a Web site.

    What this does do is give the content creators another distribution method to share news and information. Another opportunity to develop a way to deliver engaging content and capture the elusive revenue.

    But, like the Democrats’ attempt at overhauling Health Care, the track record and innovation from our industry’s leadership is… well… lacking.

    That said, let’s leave the revenue model/funding concerns for another day. Let’s take a closer look at this device and how it can really change how we cover news.

    Here’s what it has:
    – Incredible price
    – Long battery life – allegedly
    – An established OS
    – WiFi enabled and upgradable to 3G – sadly through AT&T
    – Assisted GPS – with 3G
    – Translates existing iPhone apps and the established marketplace
    – You can buy an adapter to read SD card

    Here’s what’s missing:
    – Camera
    Adobe Flash compatible, although there is a report that this may soon change.
    – Wireless charging
    – Wireless syncing
    – Tethering

    There are some significant unknowns:
    – How easy is it to type on?
    – Is this a truly mobile device? Will we remember to take it with us?
    – How durable is that thin screen?
    – Will people want this?
    – It’s not E Ink (thank goodness), but will you read books on it? Eyes be damned?

    In short, it’s a bigger, stronger iPhone – minus the camera.

    From my perspective, depending on the keyboard, this could be the device that really allows Mobile Journalists to be be truly mobile. It’s not the *Multimedia* Journalists’ tool yet, but at least you could potentially use this device instead of your phone or laptop to file your story. You can use the SD card reader to transmit your pics and video.

    Any way you slice this, Steve Jobs and Apple have really created an impressive product and a new category that can really shake things up. This may not be our industry’s silver bullet, but it is a great opportunity for us to innovate… let’s not screw this up!

    10 Jan

    CES 2010 debrief: Kid Rock, Intel and batteries

    Comments off

    Kid Rock, Geordi Laforge, great gadgets and great folks… my first CES delivered an impressive experience that made it well worth the trip – even if I stayed at a bad hotel like the Excalibur. (Hey, and no CueCat!)

    You’ve heard by now that 3D TVs were the buzz of the conference and that an army of eBook readers are about to swarm the market. There were some impressive booths and demos, especially from Kodak and Intel.

    But my take away from CES was the growing technology compensating for the limitations we’ve gotten from crappy battery life.

    Here are three devices I recommend checking out:

    HyperMac batteries come in all sizes.

    HyperMac batteries come in all sizes.

    HyperMac is a full-fledged external battery made for all your Apple devices.

    Coming in difference sizes, you can lug around a battery the size of your laptop to power your laptop. Or a deck-of-card-sized battery that is great to recharge your iPhone a few times over. It powers your devices through its USB port.

    If you are tired of carrying around all your cables to charge your devices, PowerMat has some interesting options. This company launched its first device in October, but they have already developed and improved on their impressive technology.

    The truly wireless PowerMat. Coming in Q3.

    The truly wireless PowerMat. Coming in Q3.

    Later this year that are going to release replacement batteries for your cell phone (and soon for your digital point-and-shoot and video cameras) that will work with their wireless charging mat.

    But, for me, the best thing coming out in Q3 is their really wireless, portable charger. This (large) pocket-sized mat holds enough to completely charge your iPhone four times or even give your netbook some extra juice, with an adapter.

    This mat is truly wireless. Just place your device on the mat, hear a beep and see it charge. There are several different contenders entering the new wireless-power market, but as of right now these guys are leading the way. Keep an eye on this company.

    This little thing can get a charge by wind, solar, hand crank or plug.

    This little thing can get a charge by wind, solar, hand crank or plug.

    And for those of you concerned about your carbon footprint, MiniWiz has developed a wind, solar and hand-cranked power device. This little device is made to hold you over until you get to the plug.

    Sure, you can say it is a gimmick, but it’s a nice device in a pinch. One minute of wind power charges your phone for one minute of voice.

    There is a newer, smaller version coming out later this year.

    With things like the MiFi and these new batteries, we’re getting closer to being a completely wireless reporter without the need of a plug — well, for at least several hours.

    π