Chuck's Q Blog


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Going mobile

The information age is taking its show on the road. Mobile is clearly the next computing revolution finally moving across the U.S.

While Japan and some European nations have been at the forefront of this movement for some time, better devices in the last few years are luring more U.S. users into the ranks of mobile computers.

More and more, cellphones — especially the latest generation of the Apple iPhone — are being used in journalism. Blogs can be updated via the WordPress app. Videos for news sites have been shot and edited using just the tools on the phone. Even live reports have been produced with it.

What’s next?

Here’s a slick little presentation from the recent Online News Association annual conference in San Francisco concerning the future of news and mobile phones.

(Incidentally, I’d encourage you to look at the VuVox platform that was used to make this piece. It’s very cool, very easy to use and excellent for producing material that moves in a timeline.)

“Cities wired to tell your mobile device where you are and how to get to your destination is Linturi’s forecast for a ‘killer app’ of tomorrow’s digital cities,” Howard Rheingold wrote a few years back. That now seems to be right on the money.

Enter “augmented reality” as it is being dished out through the iPhone and other new devices.

These apps combine the phone’s GPS and video functions to create a kind of heads-up display for the user. Most of the early apps use that combination to help users locate something, like the nearest New York City Subway station.

The future of this kind of app is only as limited as our imaginations.

Apple’s widely-rumored tablet could expand on this kind of app, in addition to creating a platform that could allow newspapers to reinvent themselves online.

The week the latest version of the Kindle was launched, a colleague asked me what I thought of it as a platform for newspapers. I said I thought it was a step in the right direction, at least from the standpoint of the size, but it still had major weaknesses. It was expensive, still didn’t have a color screen, couldn’t do anything but text and didn’t utilize Wi-Fi. There were rumors at that time that Apple was about to unveil a tablet and I said I wanted to see that first.

My paper recently began selling a subscription for Kindle users, if for no other reason than to cover the bases. But I’ve been pressing for an iPhone app. I think it’s important to build one to begin to operate in that space. If Apple launches a larger platform that’s based on the iPhone OS, I think we’re going to want to be in that space as quickly as possible. If it’s nothing more than a giant iTouch, it could provide touchscreen controls for a color display and a connection to the Internet (via Wi-Fi or a mobile carrier).

Newsweek’s Daniel Lyons says:

For those of us who carry iPhones, this shift to a persistent Internet has already happened, and it’s really profound. The Internet is no longer a destination, someplace you “go to.” You don’t “get on the Internet.” You’re always on it. It’s just there, like the air you breathe.

Sounds familiar.

As that becomes the case for more people across the country, the news industry needs to be ready to adapt and adopt.

Category: Weekly Readings

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  1. [...] Some of those ideas have been shared with colleagues in and out of the newsroom. I’ve even written about a few for other classes using this [...]