Hey! Nielsen is a new venture by the Nielsen group to help bring their reports back to the current ages. The website is a social networking portal for blogging, commenting, and rating worthy news and opinions for vast world of media.
How does it work?
"Using data from real users, Hey! Nielsen generates a Hey! Nielsen score -- a real-time indicator of a topic's impact, influence, and value. As users submit feedback, the score is created from a number of factors such as user response, blog buzz, and news coverage, as well as raw data from our sister sites Billboard.com, HollywoodReporter.com, and BlogPulse.com."
How much weight?
It will be interesting to see how much faith they put into this rating system compared to the traditional Nielsen rating. Its certainly offers a new perspective and the average of the ratings will probably be a good middle ground as to where to public really is in the current digital revolution.
DataPortability is an effort by a group of volunteers and Internet application vendors to promote the capability to control, share, and move data from one system to another. DataPortability is the idea that users should be able to move, share, and control their identity, photos, videos and all other forms of personal data.
The project aims to document the best practices for integrating existing open standards and protocols to enable end-to-end data portability between online tools, vendors, and services.
A few initiatives like this have been started, but the most important factor for success is to see how social networks adapt to a companie's standard. Currently, I see DataPortability forging ahead with adaption from facebook, twitter, netvibes, and linedIn. I believe all the "competitors" for this "portability" market are collaborating and are ultimately looking for the greater good of online practices, ethics and standards.
Here is a list of similar efforts that are trying to unify a standard:
"A free and easy way to use a single digital identity across the Internet."
"An open protocol to allow secure API authentication in a simple and standard method from desktop and web applications."
"Microformats are a set of simple, open data formats built upon existing and widely adopted standards. Instead of throwing away what works today, microformats intend to solve simpler problems first by adapting to current behaviors and usage patterns."
"Xmpp is an open XML technology for real-time communication, which powers a wide range of applications including instant messaging, presence, media session management, shared editing, whiteboarding, collaboration, lightweight middleware, content syndication, and generalized XML routing."
The New News Media Series
When I started thinking about what the New News Media would mean for the average person a few years from now I decided that if a person wanted they could have a more balanced news experience than the one they might have had 10 years ago. The ability to choose what their news is about and where their news comes from allows people to curate their own news 'paper'. When I first realized this, I thought it was great...a newspaper made only by me. Then I myself had to take an unbiased look at what the repercussions of this might be.
Look at the cover of a news paper, or on a news website like The New York Times we are presented with a fairly diverse array of stories. They may not be stories that you want to read, but glancing at page one of any news paper, even for just a moment, you are able to get the gist of what is happening in the world around you. My concern is, what happens when your page one is filled with your interests? Will a lack of outsider curation narrow your perspective further?
When a single person is allowed to decide what to read solely based on personal interests and beliefs, is what they're reading really an unbiased view of the world? Will people really seek the opinions of those who are different than them? It depends on the importance a person places on a diverse perspective and knowledge set.
What I am talking about is obtaining a broader view of what is happening in the world today, not just those things that have a direct impact on the reader. I fear that a purely reader curated news media would give way to a population of people who are relatively ignorant. They would be well versed in their areas of interest but completely oblivious to the world they live in.
As an early adapter myself I have experienced this. With multiple tabs of my Netvibes account dedicated to technology, art, culture and advertising and only one catch-all tab called 'General' where I have a couple of RSS feeds containing general headline news. Aside from the absence of diverse topics, there are so many things to read that I become overwhelmed. While there is a lack of hierarchy that allows me to absorb the news in an unbiased fashion, finding the big stories quick becomes an issue. It is obvious that even my own curation of my news has become slightly one dimensional. I have no idea what is going on in Myanmar right now, and the headlines on the New York Times website tell me I probably should.
User-curated news is a great thing. It provides control over sources and perspectives that people really haven't had before now. It will be interesting to see what larger cultural impacts this has on our societies globally. If no one was reading about politics and the world would we really care how much Bush was spending on Iraq, or that people were dying their every day? Will we come to a point where our lack of global awareness leads us to betray our fellow human? I think if we fail to diversify our news topics, that is possible. That being said, I should probably go read that article on Myanmar now.
Internet TV is such a powerful idea. The ability to effectively interact with such a rich and historic media is the next great challenge.
Traditional TV is Mindless... in a Good Way.
The TV has a special place that internet TV has not quite taken, but could very easily. I began to really think about how I would separate them in my mind. I personally like the TV because it's mindless. After a long day of work, nothing is better than flipping through the channels and just settling on something. I become more engaged very quickly once I find something, and satisfaction has been met. After a long day of work, and I go to Hulu and select TV shows, I'm suddenly faced with more decisions and analysis than I had the last hours of work! If you're following a series, no problem, but if you need moving picture as a buffer, the television is mindless and perfect.
Meet in the Middle
The TV and other media that are not too interactive offer this relaxed interaction. If Hulu would offer a "Surfing" mode so that when you log in, a TV show is already streaming, and not necessarily in the beginning, I think this would show some interesting results. The ability to flip through shows that are streaming currently, and then a "start over" button at the bottom. It's these "less decisions, more relaxing" approaches that will allow users (older demographic especially) to meet in the middle and still see internet TV as as television, and not a cue of media. Technology has allowed Internet TV to completely reinvent itself, but should consider the fundamentals of what makes a typical TV experience what it is... It's mindless and easy. Let me know what you think.
The New News Media Series
29 years old
Brooklyn, New York
Graphic DesignerThe Scenario: As Bob goes through an average day he wants to get information on certain news items and topics.
When Bob wakes up in the morning he makes his coffee and sits down in front of his computer, he opens up Google News to see what the latest headlines are. Since Google News is a computer-generated news site, he knows he will not experience any bias from any particular publisher as far as what stories are most important. The hierarchy of the page allows all of the stories equal importance (unlike the newspaper), so he can browse until he finds a story that seems interesting.
He selects an article entitled "Busy Day at Court Handling Sect's Children," he looks at the links to sources where he could read the same story and decides that his best bet is The New York Times. He clicks the link. Once on The New York Times website he begins reading. About half way through the article talks about the "Yearning for Zion ranch," Bob has never heard of this before so he clicks the link to learn more about this ranch. There he is able to see an image of the ranch along with several other stories about the ranch, he is satisfied now that he can put an image with a name and clicks the browsers back button to return him to the browser to finish reading the article. (more...)
The New News Media Series
A couple of days ago I asked you to imagine a world in which news media could possibly be neutral. The problem is...I don't actually think that news media can ever be neutral. With humans running the show a natural bias is always assumed, if computers ran the show their analysis of humans would be skewed due to the unpredictable nature of people. I do feel however that changes in the Internet over the past few years have altered the way we get our news in a really interesting way, possibly moving the news we consume towards a less biased place.
The introduction of RSS feeds, APIs, vlogging, blogging, and other social media sites have dramatically altered the way in which many people consume informational/news content. Audiences are no longer tethered to a piece of paper or television at a certain time to receive the news for that day. They don't have to hope that the news will cover the topic that is important to them, nor do they have to remain bound to a news source they don't like simply because that's all that is available. Consuming news content doesn't have to be a one-way passive activity anymore.
The audience can now choose where they get their news from, what their news is about and when they receive the news. More importantly the user can compare the same story from multiple sources to check accuracy, comment on stories, read expert (and not so expert) analysis of a situation, search the Internet for raw facts regarding what they have read and if they feel inclined...they could even add their own opinion, analysis or knowledge to the mix.
With the Internet at our finger tips we have a broader base of news and information to choose from. By diversifying the information channels we consume, we are able to see multiple view points, therefore giving us a more vast set of information from which we can formulate our own opinions (or biases). So while this method of consuming the news does not eradicate biases from individual news outlets it does collectively give the audience a more neutral experience with the news. By giving the audience a set of stories from multiple outlets about the same news event the audience can draw their own conclusions rather than just believe what one news story from a single outlet has told them.
In many ways the audience has gained some controls over what is being fed to them, what I wonder now is what the danger of that control really is.
The New News Media Series
I started to consider the world we live in today. News media is a primary resource for getting information about events that haven't quite been cataloged in our history books yet. It is our way of knowing what is going on around the world. I would also argue that the news media, by its very nature is tragically flawed. There is no hope of true neutrality in news media as it stands right now. The way our news is curated via omission prevents news media as a whole from every being truly non-bias. I wondered what it might take to create a neutral news media...
Imagine a world where cameras and microphones are everywhere, every angle is watched and listened to. In that world there is a massive database of faces and voices cataloged for easy reference. Now imagine that there are no reporters, what these cameras and microphones are capturing is the news. The system that these cameras hook into would run checks with the databases of people for an accurate account of who was there, the system would understand what was said. The system would then edit this information into a comprehensive news cast that would be available for all of the world's citizens to view.
When the news media is void of human editing does the news then become neutral? How does the addition of technology into the sphere of news media effect the neutrality of our news?
Steve Jobs doesn't wear a belt. His typical attire when in the public eye includes a black long-sleeve shirt, a pair of ordinary jeans, and casual shoes. A "timeless" look to some degree. But what about the belt?
I began to ponder why this innovation superstar did not opt to wear a belt, and then it occurred to me that he decided he didn't need one. He didn't need the help of that third-party apparatus. And then it all made sense.
Apple has become a superstar in the technology world by reinventing the approach to technology. The products are beautiful. The products are cutting-edge in technology. The products are marketed well, and people will pay a premium price for them. Oh, and they last a long time, but that's why Apple's stock has dropped drastically... people don't need to buy a new one anytime soon. So how has their revenue model changed?
Apple's Itunes has become a powerful force and direct venue for lots of micropayments. But according to Financial Times they might take it one step further and push an "all you can listen to" subscription that is either a one-time fee when buying a device, or a monthly fee. This consistent cashflow is something nice to have I'm sure.
So to tie it back to the "no belt," Apple has a vertical merger that has a created a perfect Apple experience from the fancy computer, through the simple intuitive software, through the easy, convenient, and fast supply chain, and now you're experiencing your favorite media, whether a movie, a book, or music. All done Apple Style. If the shirt and pants work, why do you need a third-party belt? It just interrupts.
Belts are Out of Fashion.
Media on the internet has become an uncontrollable monster with illegal downloads, torrents, and the works. The only true way to bring it back is to make it more convenient the user, and make it unlimited. This is why I think the subscription model will work, and is where the industry needs to move. Internet TV however does not need a subscription because we are conditioned to commercials. Hulu rocks:)
So in conclusion, Steve Jobs doesn't need a belt, as Apple doesn't need a "belt". I believe this trend will become a staple for media distribution. But if Jobs goes on stage without a shirt, we might all be in trouble!
If you have time any free time on your computer, outside your traditional routine, check out this archive of web 2.0 companies that have brilliant ideas on how to make your life a little easier, but will probably disappear in the next few years.
These entrepreneurs understand our problems and are solving them individually, but how do they get incorporated into our daily routine, when they are so... distant? Let me explain further.
Trying the Jott Trot.
Upon first glance, in the sea of beautiful fresh logos, I chose Jott, whose tagline is "Voice-Powered, Hands-Free Messaging and To-Do Lists," sounds pretty useful. The site is nice, so I went a little further. One tutorial movie later, it became very apparent that it is a solution to a problem that isn't really a problem to most people, but does offer some amazing features that, after registering and testing it out, is quite useful.
I registered quickly, and had my account. Connected my mobile with my Jott account, and then liked my Jott account with my Google Calendar account. This was awesome because if these new technologies can't link to something "standard" like Gmail or Facebook, users will forget to use it
The Countdown Begins.
Even being sick and sounding very nasal, Jott recognized my spoken statement, and placed it on my google calendar in the right day and time slot. Amazing. This technology is able to flow into the mobile phone realm, but how long will this market be around before every mobile IS a computer with internet? The registration and linking of accounts was more difficult than my dad could handle, so it's targeting the same demographic that is eagerly waiting for gen 2 of the Iphone. Jott is now in my mobile however, and I will probably play with it for a week or so, but that might be it until I discover how it works with other steadies in my routine.
The whole process took about 40 minutes, including testing and playing. And then I was back to the site, searching for the next big thing. Do you see the problem here?
Win Me, or Confuse Me?
Time-management and convenience is a web epidemic that is hot right now, but making one process more streamlined does not necessarily make room for other stuff. And as companies try and out-tech the competitor, they loose the average consumer in their race, and suddenly only the young web-saavies can make use of their product. It is truly innovative stuff, I just want to see how it gets to everyone and into the average Joe's routine. That is the underlying question that needs to be answered. Comment if you have an answer.
Last week I wrote a little bit about Internet TV and how I feel it will and currently is changing the social landscape that has been built around the television shows we have come to know and love. I found this podcast today and thought it might be an interesting follow up to where I left off last week.
I was intrigued by this episode for a couple of reasons, one being that the future of television right now is really up in the air. Technologies have emerged over the past couple of years (ie. Internet TV) that are just starting to take off, and there's still room for improvement making the future of television anyone's game. The message board for this episode follows suit with a conversation which suggests several different paths television could go.
Passive Viewing v. Interactive Viewing
A theme that I saw emerge is the preference of users when choosing between the passive experience of television and the interactive experience of the internet. As I started to think about the difference between a passive experience with a television and an interactive experience with a television two things came to mind:
- The fact that "64 percent of people between the ages of 9 and 17 aren't just glued to the couch while the TV is on—they're going online at the same time."
- A recent study showed that video streamed by broadcast TV websites are two times as likely to be watched by a female than by a male. At the same time videos on Consumer Generated Media websites (ie. YouTube) were twice as likely to be viewed by males than females.
Statistics like these make me wonder if the future of television is a purely interactive experience. After all there is something to be said for kicking back with a beer and watching your favorite television show, without have to respond interactively to the content put forth by the show. That being said I have no idea how what kind of interactions might be available in regards to the TV, or what kind of interactions would add value to the traditional passive experience. As for right now I'm not willing to abandon the passive experience for an interactive one...right now I want them to co-exist.
There is no doubt about the fact that the formats and distribution methods for television are going to change. These new changes however are posing several obstacles which are preventing consumers from fully adapting these new technologies.
- "On average around one-third of consumers with broadband access said they watch less television since going online. Conversely, internet access appears to have a positive effect on radio listening..." Multi-tasking is quickly becoming a way of life, despite the fact that watching television is indeed a passive experience, it is possible that two visual experience at the same time may be too much for some consumers.
- A lot of hype has surrounded the idea of TV on the mobile phone. The hype hasn't transitioned into anything valuable though. Multiple studies show that the idea of mobile TV just hasn't caught on quite yet. Hindrances include things such as screen size and video quality -- why watch a movie or TV show on your tiny cell phone screen when you could watch it on your 42" HD TV?
- Image quality is a huge issue across the board with newer distribution methods. I expect this will improve quickly, especially since Adobe released a newer compression method for .flvs
Television right now is going through a transitional period. If it were a growing human it would be at that awkward stage where their voice squeaks and they haven't quite adjusted to their growing body. But the way consumers ingest television is in fact changing and at an extremely fast pace, television networks and content providers are going to have to figure out exactly how they can become part of these new mediums so that they grow along with the consumers of today and tomorrow.
Following Madonna's Example
In truth television is in need of a re-invention. When Madonna comes out with a new record she reinvents herself, which is why after all these years...despite her age...she still is able to actually sell those records she produces. It is her new, reincarnated form that the consumer is buying...imbued with the spirit of the old Madonna, but fresher and better, more in-tune with the spirit of the current time.
Television would do well to use Madonna as a model for reinvention. I don't think consumers want to do away with the traditional passive viewing experience, but I think they would like to have the option of viewing that experience through multiple modes. As far as interactivity goes it is possible that experiences which require user input could be most successful as a supplement to the passive experience or co-exist with the passive experience to service a different kind of viewer. When it comes to new formats, distribution methods, and interactive viewing experiences one thing is for sure -- they MUST be easy to use and easily integrated into the consumers daily life.
However television is reinvented it has to offer consumers something new, something that works its self into our cultures new lifestyle of multitasking and heightened communication, making life easier and consumption of content easier. While I don't think any of what is out there has reached this mark yet, I think things such as internet TV are rapidly approaching this mark, allowing it to penetrate the consumer market before other methods...meaning more money and more attention.