My top 5 favorite resource for digital publishing

There’s so much information out there. I’m drowning in it everyday. But there are at least five sites that I keep going back to because  of (1) compelling content and insightful writers; (2) variety and practicality stories; (3) useful insights and information you can take with you after reading. Of course, it’s up to you if you act on these information.

NiemanLab: According to this website, “The Nieman Journalism Lab is an attempt to help journalism figure out its future in an Internet age.” Stories here are quite long, but mostly worth the read. TL;DR be damned. “We want to find good ideas for others to steal. We want to help reporters and editors adjust to their online labors; we want to help traditional news organizations find a way to survive; we want to help the new crop of startups that will complement — or supplant — them. We are fundamentally optimistic.”

 Medium.com: My daily diet for stories about technology, the industry, arts, culture, science, money, television, or whatnot. It’s just a treasure trove of good writing in long or short-form. What’s good about Medium is that you can *follow* people and topics, and you can annotate articles via a unique system of commenting. Finally, Medium allows you to become part of this growing community if you pass their standards of writing. From a content consumer, you can become a content producer here.

 Digiday.com: I stumbled upon this site just last year as I was researching on publishing topics. This website is fairly a newcomer. But it features a lot of insights, interviews, and features on brands, publishing, agencies, and digital platforms. The writing is short, some are even in bullet-point style. Lots to bookmark from this site. So, go.

PBS MediaShift:  As the site’s kicker says, this is “Your Guide to the Digital Media Revolution.” There’s so much information here, including your usual “must-reads” on digital publishing, journalism education, links to more resources, etc.

CJR.org. Call me traditional, but this academic website that is produced by the world’s top journalism school remains a daily dose for those wanting to understand the context of media. Insights, commentaries, and news analysis are provided here. Also, they offer fresh and basic perspectives on digital media.

Its mission:

Columbia Journalism Review’s mission is to encourage excellence in journalism in the service of a free society. Founded in 1961 under the auspices of Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism, CJR monitors and supports the press as it works across all platforms, and also tracks the ongoing evolution of the media business. The magazine, offering a mix of reporting, analysis, and commentary, is published six times a year; CJR.org weighs in daily, hosting a conversation that is open to all who share a commitment to high journalistic standards in the US and around the world.

There you go. If you have your own list of top sites to go to for digital publishing, please do share with me or leave a comment below. Thanks!

My Readings For the Week

A wise man once told me that if you need to market your product, THAT product  sucks. Well, that’s a sweeping statement but has some nuggets of wisdom especially in a fierce market where there is so much noise.

If you love “listacles” (short for list articles), here’s another one that compiles predictions on how marketing will be in the future. Read up on 25 Predictions on What Marketing Would Be Like in 2020. Here’s a great quote from Chris Brandt, chief marketing officer of Taco Bell: “At Taco Bell, we look at three approaches to content: Create, Co-Create, and Curate. Create is our own content, co-create is content created in partnership with consumers, and curate is taking the user generated content we like and showing it to more people. The most important ingredient in all of this is authenticity.”

The future instrument is a mix of creativity, engineering, design and software. Check out this instrument that got $80,000 in commitment through Kickstarter in 6 hours. Invented by musician Mike Butera who has a PHd in Sound Studies at Virgina Tech, this instrument, dubbed INSTRUMENT 1, is set to go sale anytime soon, after the group was able to demo its prototype.

I stumbled upon this minimalist & curated site called “Defringed.” It’s a term that many designers would know. What is this site about? It’s an online destination for creative content, chosen by their editors. The site, which I discovered through Ello.co, features design, photography, art, typography, architecture, etc. If you’re tired of the messy, cluttered social networks, bookmark this site. It’s worth your while.

Other alternative sites that I have discovered: Fusion.net (a site supposed to be designed for millennials); mic.com, which features news catering to the young people. Both sites are not as loud as Buzzfeed.com, but they also offer fresh insights and perspectives other than what you’ve grown tired of seeing on click-baiting websites.

Why digital media is like two people chatting over coffee

78556382I have this image of two people chatting over coffee whenever I try to explain the communication model behind digital media. So the Sender is also the Receiver. And they both engage in a conversation, providing each other messages that are sent back and forth, producing feedback. Sometimes, there’s interference (e.g. someone good looking walks by and distracts you for a second).

I also have this other image of digital media. It’s like that old-school stock market. It’s noisy, people are screaming, but there seems to be order in this chaos. The people use gestures or visual aids, and certain codes to transmit their message.

Defining media in the age of social and the Internet is becoming more difficult as the lines between sender/receiver, message/noise– are blurred. There’s this other image, which Eli Pariser has proposed: imagine big bubbles that contain smaller bubbles. Each bubble is a “filter” that contains the message within that space. And there exists millions of these so-called filter bubbles.

Social media networks like Facebook are considered filter bubbles that are powered by algorithm. This algo learns from your behavior. From that, it now predicts stories that you may want to read, and it pushes it into your feeds. Eventually, you’ll end up reading things that you only like, limiting your exposure to perspectives that you disagree with.

Today, I gave my students readings, which others may label, TL;DR. Yes, they were too long; didn’t read-types of readings.

There was this work by Dan Gillmor, called the We The Media, which introduced the idea of citizen or grassroots journalism. It was a seminal work, which captured the significant developments in digital media.

When this book (We the Media) was in its earliest stages, the author, a respected Silicon Valley journalist, posted an initial outline on his weblog, asking for comments. He was besieged with emails offering suggestions and advice. More, in fact, than he could handle. Later, he posted draft chapters as they were finished. One reader, the publisher of a small newspaper in upstate New York, whom he had never met, sent back a draft chapter dripping with digital red ink, commenting: “The time is right; the subject is right. But your book deserves to be better than this.”

I also shared a recent lecture by Emily Bells delivered during the 2015 Hugh Cudlipp lecture. She described the “tabloidization” of today’s journalism, thanks to the boom of “listacles” (list-articles) and click-baits, which combined screaming, exaggerated headlines that jumped out and grabbed you by the neck, making you click. But once you’re in, there was nothing but fluff and a gallery of gifs added to keep you staring at the screen longer.

Tonight I want to talk to you about the ‘Digital Tabloid’.

What is happening to popular journalism on the web. Tabloids always had the biggest reach, the largest impact, the most flexible standards. On the web, however, we are seeing the tabloidisation of everything. I don’t mean this as a negative. Far from it. All news outlets need numbers in the web economy that are vastly greater than they had in an analogue world firstly to make the economics work and secondly to have an impact. The demands of web scale economics have torpedoed the local news model; they have also driven great invention and a new set of entrepreneurial skills into journalism.

Then, I provided my students an interesting white paper and video clip about BBC, which is now trying to figure out its future. It talked about the evolving mediums, and changing media habits. It collected opinions and insights from experts, including one that said that having your newspaper delivered in your doorstep is a practice that has disappeared. BBC is traditional media that we all associate to mass media. BBC is one of the old giants in the UK that is hoping to catch on with the smaller and nimbler players that don’t carry extra baggage.

As I went on to explain why do we need to understand where media was coming from by looking at its definition, I was hoping to make them think about other means to effectively attract and address the need of end-users through the technology that we have today.

There’s this concept of “shovelware,” where traditional media extracts what it has on its traditional medium and brings it to the newer medium. Many news websites still look like the newspapers. Before breaking news, liveblogs, and live tweets were a norm, online news websites took what it had on print, and just put everything online. That’s shovelware. It’s content that is only transformed to digital without adding any value to it; it’s almost static.

Our concept of media today has changed dramatically. Even the players have. I went around the room asking each student about their main source of news these days. The top two sources were Facebook & Twitter. No surprise there. Tell this to traditional news editors of newspapers or TV, and they would cringe at the idea that no one bothers to go to their website to check the news.

It is also becoming more evident that WE THE PEOPLE, are increasingly consuming news the way we consume snacks. We snack on news everyday, thanks to our mobile phones, which are replacing our desktops, tablets, and of course traditional media. There were a few students still reading newspapers and listening to radio. Their reasons: their parents listen to it, specially in the case of radio.

So I go back to the main point of this article, which starts with an image of two people chatting over a cup of coffee. That’s my idea of digital media, and the way I define it hangs on that metaphor. But is that enough to explain what is happening to our digital universe? What about the NOISE?

In the BBC video, Jeff Jarvis talks about journalism addressing the needs of its audience. It is a concept that he espouses. He argues that journalism should understand the needs of a community, first. Once that’s done, then we look to technology as tools to address those needs. In that way, you establish a better relationship with your audience. It’s no longer about producing clicks, page views, and time-spent on videos that feature cats & cute babies.

Listening is also important in digital media–and that’ the next topic of a series of lectures in class. For now, enjoy this video done in 2004. It’s fiction, but it speculates on the future–that is 2015.

Internet speed matters [Missing 45Mbps in my computer]

The infographic from this story tells it all. The Philippines has the most pathetic Internet speeds and cost to consumers. There’s no real competition and choice. Now, one of our good Senators is trying to chase this down, hoping to find solutions for us, poor and paying customers.

As I write this, I’m enjoying Internet speeds of 45Mbps. This is according to a speed test that I conducted two nights ago. You may be wondering where in the world am I? I’m in a country that boasts of blazing Internet speeds available to consumers: South Korea.

I came across an article that cited studies that linked economic growth in countries to the availability of fast Internet services. South Korea falls into this category. A quick search on the Internet led me to this ITU white paper that attempts to establish the link between economic growth and the widespread availability and adoption of broadband technology. It’s a long study done in 2012. It’s a good read.

This got me thinking, and writing several observations that are based on years of writing about government policies on information and communications technology, and now being in the middle of all these development. So indulge me and read on. Note: All these are my own opinion and does not reflect views of any organization I work for or of which I represent.

1. Faster Internet speeds help generate more business. My theory of establishing link between the adoption and availability of fast Internet and economic growth is based on how businesses see this as an important aspect of doing business. As consumers demand more bandwidth-hungry services like streaming high-resolution video, Internet speeds are critical. Disruptive services like Netflix are just a start, and more will emerge and continue to evolve. And if this theory goes well, we should expect MORE enhanced services that rely heavily on digital services delivered through the cloud. Internet speeds available to consumers will be a critical factor that will push businesses and start-ups to consider to invest in digital services.

2. Efficient economies have digital backbones that rely on hyper-fast broadband infrastructure. This goes beyond the wired network. I’m talking about the digital backbone that connect us to the cloud of services. Broadband Internet is an important layer for the Internet of Things to happen. The intelligence of a system will NOT reside in devices, but in the cloud. Think Matrix, without the evil, alien-like machines chasing down humans.

3. Faster Internet will lead to the creation of more disruptive industries and new product categories. Have you heard of the phenomenon called “cord-cutting or cord-shaving?” These are terms that you will hear, as more Netflix-like services will start replacing or disrupting existing and dominant players in the video business. With innovations come new business categ0ries and opportunities for “Netflix-like” services to emerge.

4. Broadband Internet services will create new jobs. You don’t have to look any further: Silicon Valley is powered by fast Internet highways. This place has been creating new economies and new job categories. So why are we still wondering why places with poor Internet infrastructure are playing catch-up?

5. Broadband Internet is a utility, a basic human right. History indicates that regulators will face issues like Net Neutrality. This issue is, however, becoming murky as detractors are trying to muddle the discussion about its benefits. What you should know is that the cost of broadband Internet will go down. Market forces will dictate that. But there is also significant pressure from service providers to keep profits up, while balancing its operational expenses and margins. Regulators and policy-makers should have consumers top-of-mind, and they should serve them first and well. The reality, however, is that consumers are the last in discussions about delivering fast Internet. This is a topic that divides the industry, the policy-makers, and government. Currently, there is no clear winner. But there’s a clear loser: we THE consumers.

 

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Going back to my little story about my brief stay in Korea for the past 4 days. What could take hours to do,  it took less than 10 minutes. I tried for two-straight nights to send a 50MB, full-HD video that I took using my smartphone camera. While this may sound too trivial, this experience has a lot to do with the economy and the digital lifestyle that we now have.

Access to communications technology is another basic human right. Without it, economies would collapse. Faster, broadband infrastructures are highways that we need to allow us to discover new stuff. They provide us the means to learn new things, to understand and figure out solutions to the questions about our universe. It’s the very fabric that we require to test out scientific and economic question, and hopefully, come up with practical solutions.

The overwhelming Internet speed in my hotel room here in South Korea allowed me to send 2 full-HD videos in a few minutes, sparing me time to spend with friends, to walk around the beautiful city of Suwon and experience its culture–and food. That is priceless.

How I am going to miss my 45MBps Internet bandwidth tomorrow.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why some technologies do not excite me anymore

Call it techno-fatigue.

Everyday, a new shiny thing gets launched to market. Rumors fly about its specs, size, and services. After the unveiling, doomsayers say the product won’t sell. Market proves them wrong. Consumers gobble it up. It becomes a hit. Eighteen months later, a new new thing is launched again. Consumers feel they’ve been duped.

I’ve been exposed to too many technologies for years. I did write reviews about them, picking features I liked from those that are mediocre. Today, I’m still trying to learn the newer features of my operating system upgrade, er, version N+.1. It’s an unending iteration, as software companies continue to improve and quash bugs.

Social and mobile media didn’t help that much too. Everyday, I get bombarded with shiny new stuff: games, apps, services, and even spam in my SMS inbox. Many of these stuff I don’t need, but because of my curiosity, I still give them some attention. Then my excitement fades and I delete them from my phone.

We’re under pressure to keep up with the high-tech Joneses. We want to be ahead of the curve. We need to have the latest gadget. And then what? We don’t know.

I admire how mobile and digital technology have somehow made our lives “easier” and yet complicated. (We now have to keep charging our batteries every night because we want to check our Facebook stream).

I read start-ups introducing the new, new thing—but many fail to even create a market or audience because their ideas seem too far-fetched.

New phones, new TVs (smarter TVs), new appliances (connected ones too), and new software–they’re all coming. But most are fragmented. Connected they may be, some are like add-ons to a list of existing technology that we already have. (Fancy a fast-er charger?)

Let me list some observations, and I will let you weigh in on it. Hopefully, as you purchase your shiny, new, new stuff, you’ll think twice if it’s worth it, or it’s excess baggage:

  1. Do you really, really need it now? If you’re buying just to impress someone, don’t. Save your money.
  2. You already have one. Buying +1 is just too much. Buying +2 is crazy.
  3. If you’re buying one to replace your existing unit, then make sure you giveaway the old or trade it in. You might even get a few extra cash to buy some groceries.
  4. Don’t buy for technology’s sake. Keep your life simple. If you can, stick to a handful or your older units. If it ain’t broke, keep it.
  5. Purchase software that you only need. In fact, best to choose those that are cloud-based and are available for subscription. And find something that has multiple licenses, which allows you to extend usage to your family.
  6. Kill apps you are not using. Limit your social networks. Turn-off notifications, unless you’re in the news business of knowing, 24-7.
  7. Stop downloading stuff (especially the illegal ones and the bloatware). Try streaming or cloud services. They will provide enough satisfaction if you’re willing to pay monthly fees. And for those who want to know how to tap these services abroad, THERE IS A WAY!
  8. Technology should not be a crutch. It should not replace analog stuff. Use it wisely. Don’t depend on it. Buy a moleskin notebook for notes. Secure a vinyl record player. Go acoustic. Analog is the new, new thing today.
  9. Technology should not be the end-all, be-all. Give your brain and body some workout. Go out, run, swim, walk. It still pays to study nature.
  10. Finally, when you’re in front of people, when eating, or when you’re in a conversation, TURN OFF all screens. Turn it off. It’s rude to be using your phone while you’re with friends and family. In class and in SCHOOL, turn down your laptop, or make that screen sleep. Listen to your teachers. Listen to your colleagues. They will appreciate it. Strike a conversation with your seatmate or, why try knowing your classmates better.

Technology in general should not be a time-suck. It must make us better humans. Think about it. Don’t get to SCREEN BURNED.