UPDATED WITH NEW COVER: Like any project, the last 5% takes 50% of the effort. So here is the new&improved cover of the book, which shows the essence of what we want to communicate — that it is possible (if you take the time and know what you’re doing) to achieve a consistent good design […] [...more]
UPDATED WITH NEW COVER: Like any project, the last 5% takes 50% of the effort. So here is the new&improved cover of the book, which shows the essence of what we want to communicate — that it is possible (if you take the time and know what you’re doing) to achieve a consistent good design look&feel, even across a variety of mobile devices.
While this does not quite rank up with “Our long national nightmare is over…” I assure you that the relief that Janine and I feel over finally putting the finishing touches on the book we’ve been co-writing for the last six months is truly special. We knew going in that writing about designing web pages for mobile devices was going to be a difficult and intense task — but we didn’t know it was going to be THIS difficult.
Contrary to what you might see on Amazon.com, this is what the cover of our new book will look like.
But the upheaval and changing standards in the mobile web space in just the last year have been, from a designer’s perspective, a real handful. What was once the conventional wisdom – create a dumbed-down, simple website that will work on any device – has been supplanted by a much more nuanced approach, involving using sophisticated scripts to detect what device is accessing your site, looking up what technology that device supports in a vast (you hope) database, matching your content to the capabilities of the device (that means video in Flash, 3GP or MP4 formats), and then assembling a site on-the-fly and delivering it quickly and cleanly.
If the struggles of Apple with their antenna (see the Mobile Web Design Blog for more on this) have provided us with a stunning example of how even the market-leading mobile device company can stumble, well, trust me, we have had our moments these last few months. I’ve felt like the digital/authorial equivalent of Dr. Stanley searching for Dr. Livingstone, hacking my way through the dense underbrush of acronyms like WAP, WML, 3GPP, LTE, GIS and many more guaranteed to make your head spin.
We have worked extremely hard to ensure that the book is as current and accurate as possible; re-reading it one last time before it went to the presses last week was a real moment of pride for us both. We are going to deliver some real value to both designers that want to figure out how to jump on the mobile bandwagon, and for business owners who want to look beyond the “Gotta get an App!” frenzy that is leading so many down what is increasingly apparent as a blind alley.
By the way – the cover illustration above is only the placeholder – we redesigned it to feature our grinning faces. At least in Janine’s case, it should help spur casual walk-by sales (cue soundeffect: “Awwww…”).
We now return to your regularly scheduled online media-commentary snarking. The last six months have kept me hopping so much that I’ve really had to de-prioritize my blogging. I’m looking forward to being able to devote some more time to writing about all the developments in the content monetization & distribution space.
Setting a couple of bookworms loose to play with the next generation e-readers is like setting Augustus Gloop loose in the Wonka Chocolate factory. The first thing that strikes you about the Nook is how much *faster* it is than the Kindle. And Janine loved the touchscreen. More video to come on Digital Family. [...more]
Setting a couple of bookworms loose to play with the next generation e-readers is like setting Augustus Gloop loose in the Wonka Chocolate factory.
The first thing that strikes you about the Nook is how much *faster* it is than the Kindle. And Janine loved the touchscreen. More video to come on Digital Family.
And for the editors and reporters who fear that switching over to a reader-driven basis for content is going to lead to endless pages of bikini shots and [fill in the anatomical blank] slips ... well there are plenty of sites dedicated to that kind of content already.
The users have the power, you see, to go to wherever it is that we want to go to, to find the kind of pictures/video/stories that we want.
If all there were on the web was imitations of Maxim-meets-Ogrish, that would be unbelievably boring after a while. [...more]
Well, there are two schools of thought to this. The first is the one that was espoused there:
What exactly do these people think that newspaper execs will do with
data showing exactly how profitable every single article is? Just sit
on that information? Or will they use it to make business decisions
about which departments, types of articles and individual journalists
are delivering the most ROI? “Sorry, Woodward, we know you won the
Pulitzer last year, but your articles only generated $97.85 in revenue,
so we’re going to have to let you go.” Of course, it wouldn’t just
influence the executives. Journalists themselves would start shading
their stories to what sells, and the most successful would be the ones
who were the best salespeople (or who knew the most tricks). Get ready
for a lot less zoning-board recaps and a lot more “Top 10 Sexual
You can see one example of this over at the Santiago, Chile daily Las Ultimas Noticias, where the publisher started to let the tail wag the dog — that is, the stories that garnered the most clicks on the website would be the ones given the biggest play in the paper edition the next day.
Also, the stories that got lots of attention would lead to follow-ups. The upshot of this was that the coverage did start to resemble a deranged issue of Maxim magazine.
Business news? “Picture of Women Executives Working Out & Getting Sweaty”
Political news? “Vote on Whether Japanese Women Have Cute Butts.”
But before everyone starts jumping on the already-crowded “I Told You So” train, LUN was always a bit of a downmarket paper. They were #8 out of 8 daily newspapers in Santiago, Chile. So their core, and the people they attracted with their marketing blitz, were readers that were not already dedicated to the bigger papers, such as El Mercurio and La Tercera.
And yes, LUN did vault from last to first, and a big part of this was the aggressive strategy.
But since then, LUN has been branching out in its coverage; they no longer have T&A on every page. They have the core audience of what the British call “Lager Louts” or “Yobbos,” but they are branching out to include more technical content that appeals to the same young webheads that come for the biscuit shots.
And for the editors and reporters who fear that switching over to a reader-driven basis for content is going to lead to endless pages of bikini shots and [fill in the anatomical blank] slips … well there are plenty of sites dedicated to that kind of content already.
The users have the power, you see, to go to wherever it is that we want to go to, to find the kind of pictures/video/stories that we want.
If all there were on the web was imitations of Maxim-meets-Ogrish, that would be unbelievably boring after a while.
And as we’ve seen with OhMyNews, even when users are allowed to pick their perfect, tailored mix of stories and information, after a while, we kinda want someone (read: an editor/blogger/”curator”) to surprise us.
We want to see things from outside the bubble. Well, most of us do. Some people will gleefully sustain themselves on a steady diet of mental Twinkies, and never get tired of them. Never mind them. They were never your readers anyway.
I think that the recent political campaign and the economic meltdown have hammered home to a generation of news consumers that it’s kind of a good idea to pull our heads away from whatever dingbat thing Paris & Britney did this week, to see what it is that our elected officials are doing with our money … and how they’re funneling it to the equally dingbat financiers and bankers that bribe them.
So yeah, maybe there will be a bit of a blip when the micropayment model is implemented. But it will shake itself out.
If you believe that all your audience wants is cheezcake … well, aren’t you saying then that your audience is a bunch of pervert dimwits?
In terms of charging for content, both Jarvis and Edwards are wholly in agreement. Jarvis is of the opinion that it is now more valuable to build audience – “I think the odds of success in charging now are slim to none”. Edwards echoes his sentiments, with his belief that “if we charged for content on the internet our traffic would go down significantly… It’s abandoning the trust in the advertising as a financial model.”
Well, that trust has been strained recently, and it is only going to get worse, unfortunately. The continued soft economy is going to put some severe downward pressure on ad revenues, at least for the next nine months. The best news that I’ve seen today came out of the LA Times – a small article about how the bottom-feeders are out snarfing up low-priced houses in the Phoenix area (which was pretty much the most overinflated area in the U.S. when it came to the housing bubble). If this holds up over the next couple of months, that would mean that a lot of the “frustrated money” that’s been sitting on the sidelines is going to start getting back into the game.
Again: I do think that there is a place for charging for content online. But that model necessitates a radical change in how the news business does/would operate, one that makes shutting off the presses and moving only to web distribution look positively timid by comparison. I’ve worked at magazines that were almost all circulation supported. The key to survival is that you have to have something that the consumers can get nowhere else.
This is part 3 of John’s keynote at OMMA 2009. …and yes, I know, I don’t have the excerpts and such that made the other videos interesting to watch. But I figure if you’ve gotten this far, you’re probably already pretty interested in what this guy has to say. [...more]
This is part 3 of John’s keynote at OMMA 2009.
…and yes, I know, I don’t have the excerpts and such that made the other videos interesting to watch. But I figure if you’ve gotten this far, you’re probably already pretty interested in what this guy has to say.
“The obligatory Twitter section of every keynote address in 2009.” Calacanis describes how web companies could really leverage their audience attention by using innovative new ad models. He “works the numbers” to show how a (proposed) $250,000 investment to be recommended by Twitter would pay off in as many views as a 30-second ad for […] [...more]
“The obligatory Twitter section of every keynote address in 2009.”
Calacanis describes how web companies could really leverage their audience attention by using innovative new ad models. He “works the numbers” to show how a (proposed) $250,000 investment to be recommended by Twitter would pay off in as many views as a 30-second ad for the Super Bowl – and at the end of that process, you would have a big mailing list, rather than just a press release.
While I am happy bordering on ecstatic to see someone at least thinking about inventing new ad models, I think that Jason kinda contradicts what he said earlier about ads being unwelcome on social media sites. He had us convinced in the first half of the speech that advertising is useless on Facebook, and then he shows off a classic intrusive movie trailer that you have to sit through before you can log into your home page. Not sure I agree with him on this – even though he leads the audience through an exercise to see how many people would be willing to jettison their Facebook or Twitter usage if it starts getting crammed with ads.
I think the reactions of a younger, more anti-authoritarian audience might be a little different. Yeah, the 14-24 y.o. males might kick & screech a bit about the corporate bastards who are slowing down their SuperPokes of the new hottie in homeroom, and then in a few weeks, calm down and accept the new ad-heavy paradigm.
Or – they’ll use Facebook to organize themselves and perform a mass exodus to some other social media platform (Hi5 – this is your opportunity knocking!) and Zuck‘s beautiful baby will have its value utterly destroyed in a matter of months. It’s happened before. It will probably happen again.
HD video demands – at pretty decent color depth & resolution - about 15-25 megs. (Well, unless you’re trying to deal with uncompressed 1080i HD, which calls for about 400 megs - but the only reason to do that is to capture/edit, rather than watch, which is a whole other can o’ crawlies.) That means […] [...more]
HD video demands – at pretty decent color depth & resolution - about 15-25 megs. (Well, unless you’re trying to deal with uncompressed 1080i HD, which calls for about 400 megs - but the only reason to do that is to capture/edit, rather than watch, which is a whole other can o’ crawlies.) That means that a 4G phone is basically the final linking device to provide the addressable TV & instant content delivery that we’ve all been blathering about for the last 20 years.
This article on Gizmodo is about the clearest, best-written piece I’ve stumbled across in the last year or so of baking my noodle in the alphabet soup broth of mobile media acronyms.
But what’s so special about WiMax and LTE? And how fast can they really get? Very simply, West told us, “The magic is the channel width.” LTE and WiMax use really fat wireless channels, so they can move a lot of data at once. For example, AT&T’s Kafka told us that “peak speed for LTE in 10MHz is about 140Mbps and peak speed in 20MHz is about 300Mbps.”
Did you see that? 300Mbps? Over the air? Whoooa. Well, don’t let your panties get blown away yet. Yes, 4G will be way faster than 3G. But don’t expect Asian city internet speeds wirelessly in the next couple of years. Clearwire’s Barry West throws a bit of cold water on the ridiculously scorching speeds you might see hyped for LTE: To get to that 170Mbps, “that’s like 8.5 bits per hertz and I’ve never seen a system achieve more than 5 bits per hertz.” Huh? Basically, it doesn’t take a whole lot of interference to slow your connection down, because it and WiMax use a complicated modulation scheme that you can’t have constantly cranked to 11. So real world speeds will be slower.
This, coupled with the laser-projection capabilities being built into the next phones, and the ever-smaller and higher-rez cameras, is pointing to one helluva information device in the future – one that can capture, upload, download and display crystal-clear video.
“In the future everyone will be a television network. For 15 minutes.”
4G: 4th-Generation cellphone. The big clunky analog beasts that we used up til the late 90s were 1G. The switchover to digital (when bad connections were echo-y and robot-sounding rather than crackly and static like bad radio reception) put us to 2G. iPhones operated at 2.5G, which means data rates of about 200K. The faster data rate is 3G.
CDMA/1XRTT/EVDO: The compression & transmission technology sets used by Verizon and Sprint. Popular in Korea, Japan, South America and U.S.
GSM/EDGE/HSDPA: The data transmission sets used by AT&T and T-mobile. Everyone in Europe uses GSM technology. It allows you to swap SIM cards between phones, but is slightly less efficient than CDMA.
LTE/WiMax: The coming data transmission standards that phone companies have been beating to death for the past 10 years. LTE = Long Term Evolution. This is a the data speed that will also be known as 4G.
Man, check out John Stewart. Is it me, or does he look just a little bit like the Muppet Beaker? Ah yes. The pardon of Marc Rich. Makes you nostalgic for a time when this was the worst crime that could be laid at the feet of the outgoing president, don’t it? Just looking at […] [...more]
Just looking at this video makes me feel 1,000 years old. It’s a reminder of how, when the party in charge of the White House changed back in 2000, there were all manner of investigations into the misdeeds of the previous administration. Wonder if that’s going to come around again … and if we’re going to spend most of 2009 having to sit through a re-hash of all the grubby insider dealsperpetrated by the Bushies.
I am of two minds about this issue – on the one hand, I think that to distract ourselves with chasing down Bush partisans to whack them around & humiliate them in front of banks of TV cameras, would be a mistake, taking our attention away from dealing with all the massive problems we face.
And then, on the other hand, there’s the fact that the massive problems we face are a direct result of the actions of these sleazy, incompetent thieves. To let them skip merrily away into the night, their pockets stuffed with stolen taxpayer funds, chortling in glee at their cleverness … well, that just grates.
Anyway. The point of this was to do a compare/contrast of viral video from then, to the political online video we see now. Makes you realize how far we’ve come, with production values. And how we’ve come to expect that when outlets like The Daily Show air a segment, they back it up with video clips culled from the past.
This is a very Web 2.0 concept … I think it comes out of stories on the web, where we have hyperlinks within the stories that allow us to see the evolution of the meme over time, and then compare it to the current story.
My point is that in the last eight years, the way that we process information has changed in a fundamental way that we’re really not fully cognizant of. We expect to see the background, the history from primary sources, that supports what the person is telling us in the present.
I just want to find a way to make sure that the aggregators have something to aggregate. That original reporting of facts & events does not die off, and that the persons who do the pick & shovel work to unearth the sound bites & images that are then stitched together (for great acclaim & profit) by middlemen like the Daily Show (or Drudge, or HuffPo, or Sadly, No!, Politico, etc. etc. etc.) start to share in some of the extraordinary wealth that is generated off of their sweat equity. The link economy.We needz it.
I know how you feel, Barry. This quote from an excellent Wall St. Journal interview with one of the smarter (and more ruthless) guys in the media biz. He’s coming forward to explain why he busted up IAC. “You really want to get a headache? Try to understand Internet advertising. Social-networking advertising is being discounted […] [...more]
“You really want to get a headache? Try to understand Internet advertising. Social-networking advertising is being discounted because there is so much inventory [of available ad spots], and because methods have not yet been found to make it very effective. Will that get figured out? I absolutely believe it will. What form will it take? Absolutely unknown.”
I hate like hell to keep doing quick, off-the-cuff bites at such big topics, but maybe I should just resign myself to accepting the web ethos of not trying to do all things at once. Yeah, yeah, I know – “Eat the elephant one bite at a time.”So here’s an interesting coinkydink: two items I […] [...more]
I hate like hell to keep doing quick, off-the-cuff bites at such big topics, but maybe I should just resign myself to accepting the web ethos of not trying to do all things at once. Yeah, yeah, I know – “Eat the elephant one bite at a time.”So here’s an interesting coinkydink: two items I bookmarked to read later – and actually got around to reading (pause here for an astonished gasp) – struck me as having a stronger relationship than was initially apparent.
On LinkedIn, the market leader, members have been updating their profiles in record numbers in recent weeks, apparently to position themselves in case they lose their jobs. The two most popular sites, LinkedIn and Xing, have been growing at breakneck speed and boast 29m and 6.5m members respectively. And, in contrast to mass-market social networks such as Facebook and MySpace, both firms have worked out how to make money.
The article goes on to raise two interesting points 1) if Facebook can start becoming friendlier to business users it might start actually making money, and 2) professionals are shit-scared about the economy and looking at social networks as great “Career Insurance” places to schmooze people you met once at a conference, snarfed their biz card and never had a use for.old friends.
Next to this was a piece from BusinessWeek, another in the seemingly endless series of kidney punches from the biz community about how newspapers are doomed, done for, goners, forks stuck into them and vultures already descending.
So who would profit from a disappearing newspaper? Local TV and cable, for starters. The city daily is still the biggest single media entity in virtually any market. Its main pitch to advertisers is brutally simple: We have more craniums to dent with your message than anyone else.
Which brings me to a disquieting conclusion. The obvious venues for all this displaced journalistic energy are a gazillion new independent online endeavors, be they individual blogs or bigger efforts like MinnPost.com. They will make for fascinating media ecosystems within individual cities, and some will become hits. It is much less certain whether ad dollars will follow. Ultracheap classifieds site craigslist has simply “destroyed revenue,” [emph. mine - dlf]says Dave Morgan, a former newspaper executive who founded behavioral targeting firm Tacoda, and revenue that no longer exists won’t shift to new ventures. Others point out that key newspaper advertisers—local auto dealers and realtors, say—already have many outlets for ads online, not least of which are their own Web sites or national sites such as Cars.com that serve up targeted ads.
For those sensing untapped riches in ads from pizzerias and dry cleaners, well, good luck, says Borrell. “Local is a very unorganized and dirty business,” he says. “People look at local as this one-ton gorilla, but in fact it’s 2,000 one-pound monkeys.” And no publisher can afford to sit down with a city’s 2,000 small fry to sell each a $50 ad. The bitterest pill of all for newspaper denizens is that, while nature abhors a vacuum and all that, in this case there may not even be one left to fill.
Yowch. So newspapers will all just die, and by this point in time, they’ve become so irrelevant and useless that nobody will even really notice that they’re gone? Sheesh. Start passing out the pistols & hemlock in America’s newsrooms, eh?
I’m going to have to disagree with this nihilistic conclusion. Yeah, I know the local online niche ad market is impossibly fragmented, and it would cost a publisher more to pay an ad sales rep than that person would produce in revenue. Solution: don’t pay the ad rep. Do what El Tiempo in Bogota calls “auto-pauta,” or DIY ads. BTW, I really do recommend you click through on that link to El Tiempo. They are one of the smartest operations out there, they are making piles of cash off internet ads, and they are constantly (ruthlessly, relentlessly) refining their approach.
Moreover. When you look at what the social networking sites are really selling their users, you start to come to the conclusion that what a local newspaper – correction: what the local newspaper of the future – offers can be a lot more compelling.
Think about what the users really want from these social net sites. Chatting with friends, yeah sure. Blowing your own horn in a socially acceptable way, yessiree. Looking for the next step up on the ladder? Well, yeah … but the problem with a lot of the listings on the social net services is that they are from all over the place. Yeah, you can filter them. But we all know that most of the really good jobs are never spamadvertised like this. We find them through referrals – which is where recruiters/headhunters come in. And local friends & business acquaintances.
One of the fastest-growing areas on LinkedIn is the “Question” section, where pros reach out to other pros in their groups, and ask something that’s on their mind. They’re trying to have conversations.
That should be taking place at a newspaper site. Sooner or later, it will. Either the papers will replicate it and include it in their future selves, or they will do a Borg takeover. The paper is a much more logical place for this kind of activity – it includes access to the reference materials from the past, a panel of trained experts to step in and help moderate the discussions, or kick new discussions off with provocative questions, and a huge archive of relevants facts and materials that can be used to make the conversations that much more valuable.
Example: One of the questions I’m participating in on LinkedIn is where to put your money now that the market is tanking so badly. There are some very smart market analysts chiming in here. But it would be nice to be able to have a window/panel open on the screen showing the various stock tables, and perhaps links to content locally that makes the point that some foreign markets are going to be able to ride out this storm, while others just get crushed.
The fact that biz users, those who have education & disposable income, have had to range far afield in search of information that they need to use in their careers, is an indictment of the lack of creative thinking at newspapers. It will take time and effort to reverse the momentum … because the very users that papers covet most are abandoning papers.
Packing up for the trip back down to LA, but couldn’t let these little tidbits from the CTIA pass without at least acknowledging them. 1. Yahoo is trying to drum up some support for its Blueprint mobile platform. They claim that it’s going to allow users to achieve the Holy Grail of mobile/web content – […] [...more]
Packing up for the trip back down to LA, but couldn’t let these little tidbits from the CTIA pass without at least acknowledging them.
1. Yahoo is trying to drum up some support for its Blueprint mobile platform. They claim that it’s going to allow users to achieve the Holy Grail of mobile/web content – tying together all our virtual identities with its oneConnect application. It’s been said, over and over (AND OVER) again that the first company to figure out how to provide the one-stop platform for social media interactivity over cellphones, is going to be the next Google (if Google itself doesn’t snarf up that space as well). The dream is that oneConnect (or whatever) becomes the way to keep up with what your friends on Facebook, Flickr, Bebo, MySpace, YouTube, etc. etc. are doing, and a way to post constant updates on where/what/why/with whom/teh awesum!1!/go away now/overload to all the places where you share your life’s experiences with the world.
I’d like to see Yahoo manage to pull this off; like many others, I’m starting to get more & more uneasy about Google’s unchallenged dominance, and I’d just as soon they not have complete control over what I do, see, say & hear, as well as knowing who I’m doing said communicating with/near/for/against.
2. Pointroll is wowing the attendees at the CTIA, offering easy(ier?) ways of taking rich media ads and porting them over to the mobile platform. Their demo of interactive ads on the iPhone, done through and with USA Today, has publishers and advertisers pondering if the time has actually come to start migrating the TV ad spending over to the phones that the 14-24s are actually using, paying attention to, and carrying with them everywhere.
The Google content network encompasses hundreds of thousands of
websites, including premium publishers and long-tail niche sites.
Google and PointRoll worked together to ensure that the ads served to
the Google content network meet Google’s policies and specifications.
After completing Google’s certification process, PointRoll’s
sophisticated targeting technologies can now optimize the breadth of
Google’s sites and categories, matching advertisers’ messages to the
users who find them most relevant.
Again, nice hype. But in light of the struggles that Google has had with Android, I remain skeptical that they have managed to so quickly solve all the problems with serving mobile ads in anything like a timely manner. I just think that there’s still too much market fragmentation to be able to claim that this One Size Fits All app will reach a mass audience.
To backup my point, allow me to quote a piece in the paper today: one of the problems many sites are running into is that about 25% of web users are still limping along with Internet Explorer 6.0.
(Pause to allow veteran web developers to spit, vomit, scream, make the two-fingered “sign of the devil’s horns” to ward off evil.)
IE 6.0 is widely recognized as the shittiest web browser ever inflicted on the public. It was launched in 2001. Since then, Microsoft has bugged users to upgrade, remove, kill, quash, forget, shred, this browser. The fact that a quarter of users in the U.S. still view the web through its Funhouse Mirror interface shows that 1) A large proportion of the public continues to employ legacy technology no matter how Christawful it is, 2) these folks ignore new technology, no matter how much better it is, for fear that upgrading will somehow cause them a problem, and 3) any tech solution based on the assumption that people will be running the latest&greatest hardware and software is doomed to die like like a possum wandering onto the Indy 500 speedway.
3. Millennial Media is competing with PointRoll to serve multimedia ads to the mobile market. And we’re going to have to stop here, because it’s time to load up the Conestoga wagon and head back to LA.