The Now/ledge

A Guide to the 'Now' Revolution in News / by Alan Soon

Ok, now I want an iPad

I recognize that I’ve been quick to dismiss Apple’s iPad; now I want one.

When I first saw the keynote by Steve Jobs, I thought to myself how lame it was — that really, the iPad is nothing more than a bigger iPod Touch or an iPhone.

I’ve come around to see that there’s more to that. In many ways, it is just a larger screen, but the iPad will give content publishers a new and far more interesting way to distribute and engage their audiences.

So what got me going? This video by Wired and Adobe. Check out what Wired wants to do with its articles on an iPad. Then come back and tell me if this doesn’t get you going.

And if you haven’t already heard, the iPad hits the shelves in the U.S. on April 3. It reaches Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Spain, Switzerland and the UK in late April.


Filed under: Newspapers, Publishing, Tools

Who in the world is Marsha?

If you were watching Twitter’s trends last night, you may have been wondering: What’s Marsha and Rana?

It’s more a “who” than a “what.”

Marsha and Rana, two Indonesian students found themselves at the center of the Twitter spotlight, not for academic accomplishment but for ongoing taunts and insults.

Rana, a junior high school student in Jakarta, started insulting BlackBerry users by calling them tacky. But Marsha decided to take on a bigger fight: She smeared public schools as sub-standard.

It wasn’t long before public school students flooded their Twitter streams attacking Marsha, retweeting one insult after another. Some users also created phony accounts in her name in a bid to fuel the rage. Marsha made it top of Retweet Rank in no time (her account @marshaaaw has since gone dark).

Wednesday’s surprising incident on Twitter is a reflection of significant trends in Indonesia.

First, according to a report by Sysomos in January, Indonesia is Asia’s biggest Twitter market. Interestingly, Indonesia didn’t even make it to Sysomos’ league table in June 2009.

Second, the growth of mobile phones has skyrocketed among students. And it’s not just the $50 Nokias — we’re talking BlackBerry smartphones, which are ubiquitous among students, homemakers and businessmen. The BlackBerry is practically a “community” phone that ties people and conversations together.

Twitter apps are also everywhere. They are light, fast and they work on practically every platform on phones. Tweets are spreading like wildfire.

Welcome to the new SMS — faster, easier and full of rage.

(Photo/Creative Commons: basibanget on Flickr)

Filed under: Tools, Twitter, ,

Foursquare — a far more interesting tool for journalists

Call me unambitious, but I really don’t care about being Mayor. Neither do I care about collecting those Boy Scout badges.

However, I’m interested in how journalists can use Foursquare in sourcing stories and seeding dialogue.

It has the potential of being a good source of stories, no different from a good Twitter feed. It’s a channel for:

  • Transportation: Traffic accidents and which streets to avoid, airport chaos
  • Economy: Store closures, where to find the lowest gas prices
  • Political: Strikes, protests
  • Crime: Bar fights, break-ins
  • Trust me, it won’t be long before we start seeing stories generated by these tip-offs on Foursquare.

    But one of the best uses of Foursquare and its GPS feature is in disaster coverage. In floods, earthquakes and other disasters, GPS location could make it easier to pinpoint emergency needs.

    How are you using Foursquare as a journalist?

    (Photo/Creative Commons: PinkMoose, Flickr)

    Filed under: Tools,

    The ‘now’ revolution in 2010: My predictions

    2009 was the year of the microblog (Twitter, Tumblr, Meme). What does 2010 have in store? Here are my predictions for “now” revolution in the Southeast Asian market for the coming year.

    1. Professional content: Expect to see a push to cultivate and support a generation of professional bloggers in emerging markets such as Southeast Asia as the market for paid content connects with a rising class of professional writers. Keep an eye on Indonesia and the Philippines — their strong traditions in journalism will form the pillar for this.

    2. Corporate social media: Companies will stumble in trying to find the right mix of resources — PR, editors, product teams — to direct engagement with their customers. The realization will hit home: It’s expensive to build and engage a community. Many will fail with half-baked social media strategies.

    3. Innovation: New technologies will pave the way for the creation of independent news startups in the region, following in the footsteps of The Huffington Post and Gawker. Cheap, efficient technologies in content management will help companies get up faster. Massive opportunities here for systems integrators to deliver fast, scaleable backend systems to keep up with the traffic. A key question remains: Will advertisers be ready?

    4. Open collaboration: It isn’t over yet. Facebook Connect will help new startups leapfrog the difficulties in building a user base. An “instant” community is coming together, faster.

    5. “Mobile-lizing” content: The next ten million internet users will come online for the first time on their mobile phones. Handsets will get cheaper and apps will get more sophisticated. No brainer. The real challenge here is for publishers to start building a compelling experience on mobile phones from the ground up — and not simply dump web content on phones. Does anyone have a good idea of how consumers want to see content displayed on their phones? Not yet.

    Filed under: Newspapers, Publishing, Social Media, Tools,

    Twitter now profitable thanks to deals with search engines: report

    Twitter could well be getting $25 million by allowing Google and Microsoft’s Bing to index its Tweets.

    Bloomberg BusinessWeek said in a report the multiyear deals mean Twitter is now profitable. Two unnamed sources told the magazine the company will be able to deliver a “small profit” for 2009 thanks in part to the agreements.

    Twitter has raised about $155 million since it was created three years ago. According to entrepreneurs and investors, Twitter probably needs about $20-$30 million dollars to operate a year.

    Ultimately, the challenge for Twitter is to add some form of advertising, but without negatively affecting the flow of comments and its simplicity. And that’s something you don’t want to mess with.

    Filed under: Social Media, Tools,

    Iran elections top Twitter’s news trends of 2009

    The Iranian election was not only the most closely followed news event on Twitter this year. It was also the first social news event ever.

    In Twitter’s final tally for the year, the terms #iranelection, Iran and Tehran were all in the top ten list of news events. Gaza was also right up there in third spot.

    The stats are further testimony to the power of social news to deliver updates from closed states, despite the best efforts of local governments to censor them. A ban on coverage? Not in the age of Twitter. 2010 will be even more exciting.

    Filed under: Social Media, Tools

    Second telco in Indonesia adds Twitter’s Text Messaging service

    Twitter fans in Indonesia have more to be excited about.

    3 Indonesia is the latest mobile operator to offer Twitter’s Text Messaging service (AXIS was the first). There are no additional fees for this.

    Users can also turn on text notifications for people they follow, as well as direct messages. There’s one added benefit: 3 is the first Indonesian carrier to support sending photos to Twitter via MMS through TwitPic.

    Subscribers to 3 Indonesia can send Tweets with the word “START” to 89887. Let me know what you think of the service.

    Filed under: Tools, ,

    The ‘Now’ Revolution arrives at Google Search

    This is the biggest shift in the “now” revolution for the search industry.

    Google first announced realtime search for its Finance product last week. And now, realtime results have been rolled out on the company’s flagship search product.

    This shouldn’t be a surprise since the company announced its partnership with Twitter and Facebook about a month ago. It is however a significant step forward in the “now” revolution.

    You can try this out for yourself — just click on “latest” in the “show options panel.” If you’re looking at a developing news event for example, you’ll not only see the latest blogs popping up, you’ll also get the latest from Twitter feeds.

    Staying up to date has never been more exciting. It would be interesting to see how advertisers and marketers can leverage this.

    So what’s Bing and Yahoo! gonna do about it?

    Filed under: Tools, , ,

    Second take: Is AOL’s algo editorial strategy smart?

    I guess you can’t be too quick to say no to AOL’s rumored algorithm “robot” editorial strategy (covered in the previous post).

    TBI Research has put out an interesting report that says the plan could actually be quite “smart.”

    This is how TBI is looking at it:

    – This is all about Search in what is an increasingly fragmented content market; the move will pull in more referral traffic.

    – It makes sense to give audiences what they want (duh!!).

    – It easily allows AOL to create the custom microsites or “experiences” for advertisers.

    – By dealing with a market of freelancers, the amount of AOL’s fixed costs will decrease.

    I completely agree with the TBI Research report. But it still leaves one lingering issue: AOL will still need to hire an army of copy editors and fact checkers — and that’s costly.

    Filed under: Jobs, Publishing, Tools

    The attack of the algo editors


    If you thought the lines between advertising and journalism are blurred, you haven’t seen anything yet.

    According to the Wall Street Journal, AOL is putting together a new workflow that aims to cut costs by simply outsourcing editorial interest to algorithms. This is how it works:

    – The “algo editor” automatically assigns stories to freelancers through based on Web searches and sites that AOL users visit;

    – The system also figures out how much marketers are willing to pay to advertise alongside such stories;

    – AOL’s staffers (human, presumably) will edit the stories as they come in;

    – Fees will “range from nothing upfront, with a promise to share ad revenues the article generates, to more than $100 per item.”

    This is of course nothing new. Demand Media is already doing it. But it would be interesting to see how the math is done: Surely having to maintain an army of copy editors and fact checkers will outweigh the cost savings — these could arguably be more expensive than the sale of the ads on the articles themselves.

    Or maybe it’s just time to leave fact checking to algorithms.

    Filed under: Jobs, Publishing, Tools

    Follow alansoon on Twitter

    Twitter Updates