Media 140 – The future of realtime news

•May 21, 2009 • 1 Comment

The other day i trundled along to the Media 140 event down by London’s Southbank. Even though i could only stay for a couple of hours, it was a great couple of hours. Accompanied by a schmorgaz board of Twitterati and a general who’s who of the industry, i listened intently to what the future may hold as Pat Kane (@thepayethic) made his keynote presentation.

I tapped away furiously, trying to capture everything so i could share it on here. So for your reading pleasure, i give you (more or less) the words spoken by Pat Kane. I’ll probably chip in and ruin parts of it, but hopefully you’ll get the general gist of it all.


There is an alternative  future of journalism and it’s Dick Tracy – With his communications watch, a real-time communications device putting Dick in the middle of the action heh heh the 10 year old in my can’t help it.

Web 2.0 and social media lets you PLAY at being a journalist.

I think this a key point here. Yes social media lets you incorporate aspects of being a journalist into your everyday online life, but for us there’s no consequence in getting things too wrong or being inaccurate. We don’t need to check our sources, Hell some people don’t even check their spelling.

Examples to show how everyday the practice of journalism has become with the growth of social media. Producing news on the street corner has become biennial. Tools that form easy group organisation.

It was here that Pat told us about taking a picture of riot police running in full gear through a park, obviously training for the G20 conference. Although he took a picture and uploaded it to Twitpic, he was scared to be a journalist. There was still the fear there of actually taking a photo of the police, just in case they confronted him and confiscated his device.

Twitter helps journalists with beat reporting  – no not the kind with someone kickin’ it old skool with a beat-boxer behind them while they report I mean it lets them be almost in the street all the time.  With Twitter’s advance search with geo location – it’s like being on the front line and the geo map of area highlights points of interest.

There are obvious overlaps – canaries down a coal mine – It’s the communities of users deciding what is news worthy – journalists have their ears to twitter-sphere in order to find out what has the potential to become news.

Real time content – audio, video, pictures, even to the professionals, the amateur stuff can indicate to them what they should be photographing and filming/how to frame etc.

Twitter helps trace sources and interviewees. It’s inherently social, giving journalists new options to follow up news and enriching the classical journalistic process.

Twitter can also help journalists with public sourcing of news and adding opinions and eye-witness accounts to the story – “can you help?”

There’s the theory that Twitter is lowering the quality of journalism – “the fear journalism being degraded by Twitter”. This idea is being refuted with examples of Twitter pointing people to follow up reading for a story, highlighting more sources, more journals, more back ground information and research papers etc.

Expertise archive – It’s a catalogue of knowledge. What’s important knowledge at a particular time.

BUT….who verifies this information? The news agency? New media? Traditional media?  Experts? This can lead us towards the destruction of meta-narratives  and to the idea that all truth is local. There are people creating pockets of truth in their areas. It’s an extremely interesting environment for news brands. Who can we trust with all this info? Commercial thrive-al strategies – Building a sense of value in these flows.

What’s beyond 140?  140 characters is a very restrictive structure for real time reporting. What’s next?

Does less journalists = Better journalism?

Use what is ubiquitous to drive people to what is scarce. Music industry solution to this, is making the live music the object, the thing that’s scarce, along with special gifts for the audience etc.

Authorities in traditional news can be of added value, but how to commoditise that?

Maybe have Mon-Fri web news but on the weekend, when people have time to sit down with something, it’s there you can deliver something special to them, something of real quality content.

The challenge of social media is to create less churnalism and more real journalism.

Some really interesting points from Pat about what Twitter and social media has done not only to journalism, but all those who use it really. I’ll probably follow this up with more thoughts at a later point.


mustblogmore, mustblogmore, mustblogmore….or should i?

•May 21, 2009 • Leave a Comment

Yes i need to blog more. Twitter is great, but i must, as Deltron 3030 once said “upgrade my grey matter…as one day it may matter “.

I’m pushing myself to write something, ANYTHING once every couple of weeks at least. So be prepared for some good stuff and undoubtably some not so good stuff as i strive to meet my fortnightly quota.

Inspiration is everywhere, perspiration…….isn’t.

Cunning stunts with digital twist….not the first, won’t be the last

•October 24, 2008 • Leave a Comment

Go get a mug of tea and a digestive or something…this might be a long one…

There’s been a bit of hoohaa in the last couple of days on tech blog bohemoth, TechCrunch, with regards to a newsletter email published in full. You can read all about it on the site. I’m not going to link to it as i feel that it would be a little hypocritical of me after what i’m about to write.

The basic gist of it is Jason Calacanis, CEO of Mahalo and “boy-wonder” of Silicon Valley has been forecasting doom and gloom for all in tech/Web, stating only a few will survive the Tech-winter of 2008. Well, Jason had to make some “pre-preemptive cuts” at Mahalo and as he has a loyal following through his newsletter (Jason gave up blogging in the summer….it’s sooooo 2004 plus he was sick of pointless troll comments on his posts), he decided to send his subscribers a “how to handle lay-offs” article. I say article as it was more than 3000 words…..seriously, where the hell does he get the time….he has a business to run.

Aaaaanyway, who should be one of those newsletter subscribers, but his good pal and partner in crime for the TechCrunch 40/50 events, none other than Michael Arrington. TechCrunch decides to post Calacanis’ newsletter article in full, stating that it was of public interest and the newsletter was sent to 9000 people anyways.

Lots of people have commented on the article included Calacanis himself, asking TechCrunch to take it down, they have no right publishing the email, word-for-word (does seem a bit lazy guys), even going to the extent of saying “Do I really have to send a DMCA letter to your ISP?!?!”.

This it what strikes me as odd. The guy is obviously good friends with Arrington, the big cheese at TechCrunch and so rather than posting a comment about how annoyed he is, you would have thought he would pick up the phone and talk it out privately, rather than air his thoughts publicly……unless this has been the plan all along…..Ah..HA!

What? Surely not? It is quite strange though….

Of course this makes sense. A lot of people (me included) think Calacanis has rather high thoughts of himself, but then i guess that’s helped him get ahead….maybe. His recent doom and gloom posts have been countered by other blog posts that things aren’t as bad as some people make out and there is a need to be positive. You have to wonder if Calacanis is seeing his Mahalo business tank and is thinking “Well if this is happening to me, everyone else must be screwed, because i’m the Jason Calacanis”…..or not. Back on point though, what better way to drum up some numbers for both sides in this “tech-winter” than to have a bit of a public fall-out and get people talking about it. Well it’s worked…i’m even bothering to take the time to write about it.

  • Techcrunch posts something with no real news hook or value, but a little controversial
  • Calacanis gets miffed and comments on the piece.
  • People flock to the site to comment or read what’s going on (i’m guilty as anyone).
  • TechCrunch’s numbers go up: mo people = mo money from ads
  • Calacanis’ newsletter also gets a few new subscribers: mo people = mo money from ads

It looks like a PR trick, an absolute classic with a digital twist. There’s an old saying that “There’s no such thing as bad press”. This is a glorious example of that. TechCrunch is a media company, with targets to be hit and revenues to increase. Calacanis is also a publisher, the more people he can get subscribed to his newsletter, the more advertisers are interested in getting into his very specifc group of over 10,000 people.

Both parties here are winners in the end. Who loses out? The people who spent an age reading the post and all the comments? Perhaps. The people who got laid off from Mahalo? Definitely, but no doubt they’re good at their job and will be snapped up. Hard to pick out who specifically loses out…..especially with two winners.

Anyway. Here’s a picture of a dog dressed as a golfer. While i agree dressing animals up as people can be cruel, it looks funny as hell.

Look! It thinks it's people!

Look! It thinks it's people!

The end is nigh……just look at all the red on the tv.

•October 24, 2008 • Leave a Comment

The death of the economy, the decline of capitalism…..recession….depression…..Jeeeez. Everyone, just lighten up a bit ok?! Yes the stocks are down, but you have to wonder how much of this is due to the media?

tsk tsk tsk...look at all that red.

Every financial office in every major city in the world, now has a tv in reception with either, Bloomberg, Reuters or Heaven forbid, Fox News on. The media has been whipping everyone up into a panic. Big red numbers, plunging graphs, expert opinion after expert opinion. Soon they’ll run out of experts and they’ll be interviewing people off the street….and then it’ll be the animal kingdom’s turn to pass comment.

I really do wonder what difference it would make if everyone just turned off their tv during work hours. Pay no attention to news websites. Go about your job with little outside influence as possible.

In my honest opinion. One of the reasons we’re seeing a global knock on effect from those two US mortgage companies starting this whole shebang off, is the fact that media is a global business now. People will of course disagree and i know that the financial situation is serious. But to be honest, i still see people going out to lunch in restaurants, people packing the pubs of an evening. Seems to me the high street is doing pretty well.

Surely it’s worth a try isn’t it? Please, just for one week, pay no attention to the news on tv. It’s their job to get more viewers, so the more controversial the better. Massive crisis logos, flashing text, the world goes mad.

Ignore it, turn it off. Put on a Monty Python dvd if you’re going to have something on.

A crude graph by yours truely

A crude graph by yours truely

Using my mobile as a wallet…why?

•October 14, 2008 • Leave a Comment

My day-to-day job involves me doing PR for a few of the mobile startups out there, trying to make a difference in how people use their mobile. I’ve been working with these companies for about 4 months now and have learnt absolutely oodles about the mobile industry. It’s been fantastic to get a real insight into what’s going on. It’s one of the reasons why i love my work. I get to talk to the people on the front line, creating and implementing things. Things that i can’t build, but want to be part of (i should’ve paid more attention in school).

Anyways, last night i went to my first MoMo event (Mobile Monday) and it was a fantastically organised evening (congrats to Helen, Daniel and the crew). The topic of last night’s conversation was Near Field Communication. Which basically means the way in which (those of you in London) your Oyster card works by talking to the scanner pad etc and some of those contactless payment devices you may have seen dotted around town.

This being a mobile event (key’s in the name 🙂 ) it was about how such technology could be built into your phone, giving you an all-in-wonder- phone….see what i did there…

I guess it works better for some people than others.

This marvel of a mobile could pay for your travel on the underground with a simple wave of your phone. I picture the action to be much like the Jedi Mind trick wave. Casual, subtle, effortless but with a profound effect.

You’ll also be able to use your phone in shops to pay for things like cigarettes and other purchases under £10 (this will mostly be the use for such tech according to the nice lady from O2)

It all sounds good. Combining three things, the wallet, the travel pass and the phone; and making them one; some kind of Wavelphone (again, a made up name in my own brain)

But the alarm bell ringing in my head is “what happens if i lose my Wavelphone on a night out?”

1- I have no phone to call a cab home.

2- I have no money to pay for the cab home.

3 – i have no travel pass to get bus/train home

I’m pretty much fucked.

Yes this is a hypothetical view. I wouldn’t of course go out without any money, as i don’t know that many bars with contactless payment devices. But there is a huge risk in combining everything. My mother always said “Don’t put your all your eggs in one basket” – i often ignore that advice at the supermarket (have you every tried separating your eggs into different baskets??) but i can’t help think she might be right here.

Mobiles are developing at an enormous pace, we already have walkmans, cameras, calculators, clocks, calendars combined into most phones. If you’ve got a newer phone or an iPhone, you’ve also got the whole freakin Internet in your pocket, along with pocket guitars/keyboards/pints of beer, lightsabers etc. By building in two more things into the phone, it suddenly makes it that much more valuable and dangerous.

I could ramble on about what was discussed last night but i’m trying to keep this kind of short-ish. One last thing i wanted to touch on was the question from Simon Rockwell from Sony Ericsson on what kind of margins would the operators be looking at taking from TFL or the shopkeeper? O2’s answer was that they weren’t interested in the transactional end of things…i found this hard to believe.

At the moment for stuff like premium SMS services where customers buy content on their mobile and the amount gets added to their monthly bill, the operators take something like 30%. So for every £1 spent in that format, the operator gets about 30p. Quite rightly, the people offering such content, might be feeling a little ripped off and perhaps even punished for being innovative enough to offer such a service. I thought it would be hard if nigh-on impossible for operators to continue those margins with independent shopkeepers or Transport For London (operators would be told where to go if they were wanting to take 30%. To say that they’re not interested in the transactional end worried me a little. Surely this would be too much money to miss out of for them?? But i guess on the other hand, the amount of data they would have access to would be priceless.

If NFC does come into play in the next five years (2012 was the target O2 mentioned) then we can certainly expect mobile advertising to change. People are talking about location based services now, finding out where someone is and trying to interact with them by sending them something they might be interested in. With NFC you will know where someone is, because they’ve interacted with something like a Smart Poster and advertisers will then be able to send them information they know the recipient will be interested in, seeing as they initiated the contact.

Sorry that this has turned out to be a bit of a mammoth post, but if you have made it down this far. Let me know your thoughts on putting everything on one device and your thoughts about the operators having even more data on who you are, where you are and what you purchase etc.



•October 14, 2008 • Leave a Comment

If you’re reading this, then congratulations, you’re one of the few people who’ve stumbled across this small piece of my webiverse (i think i may have just made that up).

So, who am i? Well my name is Neil and i’ve been meaning to do this for a while now….wite a blog i mean. After several failed attempts (they all got left by the wayside as my mind moved to other things, damn this short attent..) i decided to go for it again, but this time try really, really hard to keep it up to date. So where was i…..ah yes, about me. Well for more detail you can read the ‘About Me’ section, but just as a summary….

Name: Neil

Likes: Computers, music, snow, life streaming, Lacrosse, film, exploring new stuff/places, my mobile and everything on it, cheese.

Dislikes: stuff that takes too long, things that are complex but don’t need to be, Ben Affleck, the feel of some spongy stuff, not getting enough sleep.

So this is pretty much my introductory post. I’m trying to educate myself more re designing all this, so stick with me, i’ll try to make it look “purrdy” and put some interesting stuff up here, if you count my thoughts as interesting.

But for now, i’ll leave you with a combination of two of my favourite things. Dogs and computers.