Mobile update: Smartphone, tablet growth; platform wars; how consumers are using their devices

Business Insider shares this interesting presentation on The Future of Mobile.

Like Words With Friends? You ain’t seen nothin’ yet.

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‘Digital Darwinism’ pushing organizations to take risks or face irrelevance

I can’t stop thinking about Kodak and a poem by Donald Hall, “My son, my executioner.” The once mighty Kodak filed for bankruptcy in January and became the most recent moral to the “adapt or die” story of the digital age.  The great irony  in this case is that Kodak invented the digital camera in the 1970s, but didn’t recognize its potential to supersede the company’s lucrative film camera business. They kept on their path, aging into obsolescence.

Sweet death, small son,
our instrument of immortality,
your cries and hunger document
our bodily decay.

Of course, it is easy to see missed opportunities in hindsight. But how can organizations develop future vision to identify real opportunities and not waste precious energy when the digital landscape grows increasingly more crowded and confusing?

“The startup way, or the “hacker life” is introducing new mindsets and models and it inspiring all who taste it to code, design, build, invest, and take risks,” writes Brian Solis at

Solis has some good advice posted  for not getting caught up in the hype of riding the shirttail of new, disruptive innovations, but to instead keep a clear head to recognize and promote meaningful progress in human communications.

Organizations looking to avoid becoming their own executioners would be wise to consider some of the strategies Solis outlines here.



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Texting democracy: Twitter indexes State of the Union reaction

Some Americans talked to their TVs, some made observations on Facebook and live blogs. And some, including members of Congress, shared their key moments of the speech in 140 or less text characters via Twitter.  Jessica Roy over at posted a look at the Twitter infographic of the State of the Union  that shows the social media brings a new dimension to the communication of public affairs.  Twitter logged 766,681 tweets referencing the 2012 State of the Union and related hashtags, like #SOTU. (Below is a segment of the infographic. Follow the link to Roy’s post to see the complete image.) As for those who didn’t follow along in Twitter …

… they missed out on small moments of analysis and wit that tradition media can’t deliver, says Eric Wemple in his Washington Post blog post: State of the Union 2012: An event that the media has surrendered to social media.

To use a cliche of the industry, it’s a game changer. Before Twitter, watching the State of the Union address for me amounted to an act of civic-minded drudgery on a par with standing in line to vote on a miserable November morning, watching Discovery channel reruns during jury duty at the D.C. Superior Court, or recycling.

And with Twitter?

It’s a 65-minute comedy routine with some expert commentary thrown in just for kicks.

And the conversation continues long after the speech ends. See the latest #SOTU posts here

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Public libraries explore beyond the books

“Wonders never cease,” my father was fond of saying. And I find myself agreeing almost on daily basis when I click a link from Twitter, Google+, Facebook, email or whatever stream of social media consciousness I float through following one strand of an idea to another. The latest connection to light up my neurons was a link to a Dec. 10 item done by NPR on public libraries creating room for “Hackerspaces” for do-it-yourselfers to have access to sophisticated equipment and training to give form to their ideas. Digital advancements mean libraries are no longer confined to just housing books and offering internet access terminals. Some are redefining their services as an expansion of their role as a storehouse of community knowledge and providing access to tools for greater creative exploration.

Forget about just checking out DVDs or e-books. Get in line to get hands on the 3D printer. Likened to the replicator device on Star Trek, the 3D printer fabricates products. It makes stuff! It is already being used by researchers and manufacturers to make models and small parts. So, it isn’t a huge leap to imagine it won’t be long before the tech is made affordable and scalable for the home user. Then what will we be making?

This concept of making this tech available via a local library came out of the “Innovation in Public Libraries” course created by librarian Meg Backus and visual artist Thomas Gokey at Syracuse University.

Other students are working on:

  • Organizing CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) drop offs through the public library network (
  • Creating a habitat garden at the LibraryFarm (
  • Redesigning the bus schedules for our local public transit (badly needed)
  • Making a library’s piano available to the public
  • Creating a self-watering, self-tweeting network of cacti with an Arduino (so that you don’t over-water your cactus).
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All the news that fits your style

When I started in the news business as a copy clerk it was common to see the press operators wearing a simple newspaper cap to keep the ink and grease off their hair during their shift. It was fun to show kids how to make their own when they came by on field trips.

Nowadays most newspapers are too narrow for these directions published years ago by the Columbia Daily Tribune. But thanks to the internet we now have more fashionable recycling options. Sites like elevate the home crafters of the past to today’s artisans. A little Googling leads to an inspired inventory of wearable news items. artist Esme Dodsworth uses decoupage to turn those freebie papers that arrive unsolicited in her driveway into bangles and pendants. offers a collection of eco-friendly gifts from newspaper and other paper goods, including cufflinks and ties made from crossword puzzles and comics pages.

Crossword puzzle necktie.

Things get even fancier when designers and textile artists get the call to recycle, like they did with the Print to Apparel Project put on in Terre Haute (right). Or the stunning dressworks by Elena Gregusova in her “Wear the News” project.


Queen of Queens by Elena Gregusova





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Tomorrow’s news today

This item, recently shared on Facebook by a New Mexico journalist, helps illustrate our new expectations for communication in the digital age. The exchange is between a customer and Syl, a circulation rep:

Customer: “May I have today’s paper?”
Syl: “Sure!”
Customer: “And can I also have tomorrow’s as well?”
Syl: “I don’t have tomorrow’s yet, not until tomorrow.”
Customer: (In a disappointed voice): “Oh, you don’t?”

The customer may be even more disappointed to find out that “today’s” paper is actually yesterday’s news because most newspapers are scheduled to hit the press before midnight. We used to call it The 24-hour Miracle – marveling at the compressed amount of time we had to gather, write, edit, layout, process and then print pages and pages of fresh information and get it to the readers’ doorsteps before sunrise for less than the cost of a cup of coffee. Then we’d do it all over again the next day – a frenetic, full-on sprint to the next set of deadlines.

Now that process seems glacial. People carry phones and tablets that update instantly when news hits the web. Our friends and family have become publishers on social media. We expect real time coverage of public events as soon as we hear about them. Is it any surprise, then, that readers are now starting to expect us to predict the future?

Might be why the Miami Herald turned to The Amazing Kreskin for Tomorrow’s News Today an annual feature of Kreskin’s predictions for the future along with a scorecard on how he fared in earlier predictions. Maybe we should move the horoscopes out to the front page?


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Your role in the online collaboration behind the Captcha

You know those annoying Captcha squiggly words you’re forced to type in on websites? Luis von Ahn and a group of folks at Carnegie Mellon calculated out how much time is wasted across the planet when you add up each 10 second delay human beings spend typing those letters in to prove they are real people and not robots trying to game the system. Ten seconds may not be much to any one of us, but looking at it on a grand scale led to a project to make better use of that time by making Captcha’s more useful to humanity.

Now when we confirm our humanity to certain websites using a modified Captcha system we are part of a massive collaboration in digitizing books. Behind the scenes the system takes our keystrokes, verifies and identifies words that computers couldn’t recognize from scans of old, hard copy books. Talk about teamwork! Von Ahn continued to explore ways to use the masses to help solve big issues. In his next act we will translate the world.

See for yourself.


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Oh, Photoshop, you blurred then cropped the line

I believe the photographer did not set out to deceive us or the public. The end result was more a product of miscommunication and a naive misunderstanding on the photographer’s part.

– Andy Howell, executive editor, Ogden Standard-Examiner

An important lesson in developing pro/am collaborations. We can’t assume reader/citizen contributors understand some basic journalism codes we take for granted everyone knows.


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The inner life of photojournalists

Checking out San Antonio photojournalist Billy Calzada’s photo book of images from his “Last Picture of My Day” series taken by iphone.

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