Tuesday, 9 April 2013

Towards Journalism Everywhere

Adapting new technologies is an essential part of the development of societies. The important role of the communication professionals is to build bridges between niche specialist groups, such as engineers, and wider audience, for example by coining new, usable concepts to help us understand better the new technological innovations and their practical implications .

Many commentators argue that ubiquitous computing will be one of the main trends in future societies (Weiser 1991; Hunter 2002; Greenfield 2006; Bughin et al 2010; Nurmi et al 2010). As the society’s communication systems develop towards ubiquitous computing society, journalists and other communication professionals should not only be able to communicate about the new innovations, but also find new ways of producing and disseminating relevant information by using new ubiquitous communication tools.

So far, the journalists have mainly concentrated on reporting about ubiquitous computing. Even reporting has been slow. According to ProQuest Central’s digital newspaper archive, which consists of about 1200 news sources, ‘ubiquitous’, ‘pervasive’ or ‘ambient computing’ do not yet belong to the everyday vocabulary of global journalists.

However, according to the ProQuest’s digital newspapers database, the terms ‘machine-to-machine’ and ‘cloud computing’ were the most used metaphors. It can be argued that machine-to-machine and cloud computing are the most concrete of all the new terms related to ubiquitous computing. ‘As Keats (2011, 23) has noticed, because “our technology has become so advanced, and so abstract, - - we need antique metaphors to talk about it.”

In addition, according to Marshall Kirkpatrick (2009) the real-time web is “a paradigm based on pushing information to users as soon as it's available”. Kirkpatrick predicts that “real-time information delivery will likely become ubiquitous, a requirement for almost any website or service."

Another central concept, Internet of Things, means the networked interconnection of everyday objects. The phrase was coined by the MIT Auto-ID laboratory (Financial Times 2002; Dobson 2003). The exact year is yet to be confirmed by any authoritative sources. According to its website, the MIT Auto-ID Laboratory is dedicated to creating the Internet of Things using (RFID) and Wireless Sensor Networks.

Another try is from Greenfield (2006) who has marketed ‘everyware’ as a new metaphor for ubiquitous computing.

“In everyware, all the information we now look to our phones or Web browsers to provide becomes accessible from just about anywhere, at any time, and is delivered in a manner appropriate to our location and context."

After all of this, I will argue that we are heading to the era of “ubiquitous communication” and therefore we need also to add “ubiquitous journalism” or "journalism everywhere" into our language.

Friday, 23 April 2010

Three Scenarios for Journalists

Scenario I

Due to the fact of diminishing revenues, and work force, news media organizations have to adjust themselves into much smaller units.

Perhaps most significantly, the role of a journalist will change from a news gatherer to news flow manager and editor. The most of the raw material will originate from the low paid freelancers, high paid experts and celebrities, voluntary contributors, and accidental witnesses

With the help of different automated tools, the tiny corps of highly-skilled and paid journalists should be able to create the most relevant real-time news streams for the not-paying-anything mass audiences and the little-paying niche customers.

The core of the journalistic profession will be to curate steady intelligent streams of headlines and links. This first scenario can be called as
The Twitterization of the News.

Scenario II

By contrast to scenario I, also longer forms of journalism will survive, but only when well-written, narrated and researched. These quality stories could still be printed in paper.

This can be called as
The Economist -model.

Scenario III

It can also be predicted that the future of news is mobile. Special news and other applications should be designed to help us to filter the vastness of the information flows of the Net.

Mobile news could offer one new sustainable stream of revenues for struggling news organizations. But, however, how many news organizations do you know to have a solid strategy for mobile news business.

This third scenario is called as
News Goes Mobile.


According to
Wikipedia a scenario is an account or synopsis of a projected course of action, events or situations. Scenario development is used when organisations wish to test strategies against uncertain future developments.

Friday, 30 October 2009

The Three Categories of Media Companies

Old "monopolies" like omnibus newspapers are dying in the U.S., but new ones, like Google or Cisco, are rising. What is happening right now is not only convergence of technologies, but fusion and evolution of industries as well.
The problem is how to define key concepts in times of rapid change. For example, what is a media company.

According to Merriam Webster Online Dictionary, we have had ‘media’ since 1842. However, the meaning of mass media seems to have originated only later, 1923, and in the field of advertising. So, according to etymology, ads and media belong together.

Nowadays, Wikipedia says that in communication, “media (singular medium) are the storage and transmission channels or tools used to store and deliver information or data. It is often referred to as synonymous with mass media or news media.”

Interestingly, for example the Financial Times has not yet defined Google as a media company in its TOP 500 lists. In recently published 2009 list Google’s global rank was 36th, just behind Coca Cola.

Google gets most its revenue from the ads. No doubt about it, Google is a media company. Actually, Google is the world’s biggest media company. In FT’s list Disney (120.), Comcast (128.) and Time Warner (191) are following the Mountain View Giant.

Ex Financial Times journalist, and nowadays a Silicon Valley entrepreneur, and blogger, Tom Foremski realized a dramatic change already in 2005, when visiting Cisco Systems and getting to know news@cisco team. After that he started to even manifest that “every company is a media company”.

Indeed, at least all high-tech companies are media companies. I understand that this is not easy to acknowledge, especially by those working for traditional media companies.

But, maybe, we still need to develop our use of the concept, at least separate media companies according to their role of producing original content. The CEO of Google, Eric Schmidt, has argued many times that they are not in content business. Last time he repeated this was in an interview by Danny Sullivan (Search Engine Land, 3.10.2009). Schmidt is right. They are in advertising, innovation and content aggregating business. I would like to define Google as an “aggregating media company”.

Disney and Time Warner are somewhat different media companies, because they still create a lot of original content. I will call them “original content media companies”.

Of course, there are already many hybrids between these two models of media companies. Let’s just look at Huffington Post, which both aggregates and creates content. But because HuffPo aggregates much more links than it creates original content, I would like to categorize it also as an “aggregating media company”.

How about Cisco Systems and its news@cisco team? This is a trickier one. I would call Cisco and alike as an “emerging media company”. In this way, many high-tech companies, still testing especially new social media tools, and applications, belongs to this third category.

Finally, it seems that this third category, with its thousands of high-tech companies, still operating in “stealth mode” and in the innovative “Grey Area”, offers the most potential for the future.

So, the new question is, What Would Cisco And Alike Do Next?

Latest News

SFGate: Demand Media Will Be The First $1 Billion Tech IPO Since Google -- Here's Why (20.4.2010)

"Cisco was getting more traffic to news@Cisco than any of the top IT publications, such as ComputerWorld, InfoWorld, and many other huge computer trade publications! - - Every Company is a Media Company, or EC=MC - becomes the transformative equation for business in our times." Silicon Valley Watcher: Meeting Cisco's M&A Chief And Realizing Every Company Is A Media Company (7.4.2010)

"By not hiring journalists, but instead dominating the user-generated content business by buying companies such as Yelp, Google will become a massive media company (that, among other things, will kill off the city-and-regional magazine market, and what's left of local alternative newspapers)." Silicon Alley Insider: How Google is Becoming A Media Company (5.1.2010)

"We're now entering the full-blown creation and publishing phase. It's not just a relatively small group of early adopters that used and evangelized these tools and services, it has now moved mainstream. It is now involving millions, tens of millions, and soon hundreds of millions of people. We have all the elements in place for a media Tsunami. A giant wave of media of all types will wash over us. This Tsunami will wash away at the value of all media. By value I mean the monetary value."
Tom Foremski: 2010 Prediction: The Media Tsunami Is Coming...(4.1.2010)

DigiToday: Nokia Hires A Journalist Blogger to China (17.12.2009, in Finnish)

"On the social-networking side, Cisco has developed a YouTube-like service called Cisco Show and Share that allows users to create, edit, and share video content. It is also introducing the Cisco Enterprise Collaboration Platform, which creates a sort of Facebook for corporate users. The tool includes the ability offer blogging, wikis, team pages, and instant messaging on an internal social networking site." CNET: Cisco ruffles feathers with new collaboration tools (8.11.2009)

Journalism.co.uk: Media for All: Solving convergence and ownership consolidation problems (3.11.2009)

MarketWatch: Cisco to buy Starent Networks in $2.9 billion deal (13.10.2009)

Thursday, 25 June 2009

New innovative metaphors for the news media, please

The newspaper industry in the U.S. is in emergency mode, no doubt about it. However, new innovations in news production, business models, and advertising are hunted by thousands of professionals all over the world. New initiatives are mushrooming. But, how about stopping for a while, and starting to look answers from - the language.

I would argue that in order to understad the tectonic changes in news media landscape, new concepts are needed. Words, language, always limits our thinking. New metaphors help to build bridges between known and unknown.

But before becoming as language new metaphors are tested and challenged. A lot of time and work is still required. Later we can honor many of these inventors of new metaphors as gurus. Lets take some examples of news media oracles in digital times.

Dr. David Nordfors coined innovation journalism in 2003, and since then a dynamic network of journalists and scholars interested in communicating better about innovations and innovation ecosystems has evolved.

The newest journalistic metaphor is called "individuated news". Coined by Peter Vandevanter, vice president of targeted products for Denver-based Media News Group. Yes, the metaphor is still used with quotation marks, a weak signal of a work in progress.

According to
The Washington Times Vandevanter coined the very metaphor "after years of research into a challenge threatening the entire newspaper industry". "Individuated news" can be defined as "delivering custom news products to paying customers in cost-effective ways".

Just one more example from the history of media technology. The invention of radio was first used like telegraph - only for the one-to-one messages. Telegraph was so powerful as a concept at that time that it prohibited the companies who owned the patents for the new invention to foresee the new one-to-many model.

Broadcasting as a new communication model was invented by accident by bunch of radio amateurs, who wanted to listen music via airwaves. Only after this first commercial and state-owned radio stations were build.

So, the lessons. First of all, listen always also the amateurs, and hobbyists. They still have the genuine passion to change the world. Secondly, and the most important of all. Watch your OLD language! It can prevent innovative thinking - much needed right now in the mids of news industry panic.

Image copyright: Turo Uskali


TED: Kevin Kelly tells technology's epic story (Nov. 2009;Feb.2010)

Extra Readings:

SPIEGEL: Mr. Anderson, let's talk about the future of journalism.

Anderson: This is going to be a very annoying interview. I don't use the word journalism.

SPIEGEL: Okay, how about newspapers? They are in deep trouble both in the United States and worldwide.

Anderson: Sorry, I don't use the word media. I don't use the word news. I don't think that those words mean anything anymore. They defined publishing in the 20th century. Today, they are a barrier. They are standing in our way, like 'horseless carriage'.

Der Spiegel Online: Chris Anderson on the Economics of 'Free' (28.7.2009)

Thursday, 28 May 2009

How to add value to the news - Specialize and dig deeper

News business needs reinventing itself, especially in the U.S. and Europe. The ongoing hunt for new news business models can be a tough, long-lasting process without any clear new killer applications or solutions. Actually, I will predict that ads, subscription fees, and different kinds of broadcasting taxes, will be the dominant revenue models for the news producers also in the future.

Google’s chief evangelist Vint Cerf voted last week for the ads in the sixth conference on innovation journalism at Stanford University. In his opinion, Google could help with this. In the very same conference Jason Pontin from the Technology Review argued that consumers should pay more for what they read.
Of course, Mr. News Corporation said this already earlier in May. It is fascinating, how Rupert Murdoch has once again acted like a first mover, and truth-teller. Indeed, free is not a good business model for news in the era of internet. But Pontin also predicted that in the long run, newspapers can be published only weekends, and magazines and newspapers will be much smaller.

Interesting to see, whether this kind of development happens all over the world, or only in countries with high broadband penetration (over 60 %). It is not a big surprise that the newspapers started to suffer first in the tech savvy Silicon Valley (the San Francisco Chronicle and the San José Mercury News, and Boston (the Boston Globe) area in the U.S. However, it could be a surprise, but as a global industry, printed audience still continued to grow last year. According to the World Association of Newspapers (27.5.2009), “Despite the global financial crisis, newspaper circulation grew 1.3 percent world-wide in 2008”.

But even so, big and smaller news corporations are suffering alike, and the quality of journalism is in danger in many cities and rural areas in
Western world. The price of the news people want to pay is close to zero, but at the same time, the production costs of original reporting remains high. Traditionally, the most expensive beats are foreign news and investigative reporting. No wonder that several new online only news ventures like Global Post and ProPublica are created to fill these news holes. They are mainly funded by non-profit foundations. (See more new news ventures on the right side of this blog.)

But maybe even this is not enough. New ideas, inventions, and radical innovations are still greatly needed. One of the worlds’s leading media economics scholars, Robert G. Picard argues in the online-only publication Christian Science Monitor (19.5.2009) that “the demise of the news business can be halted, but only if journalists commit to creating real value for consumers and become more involved in setting the course of their companies”.

I agree with Picard. News organizations should concentrate more on original and unique reporting in order to create more value to their customers. I will advice that, first of all, all news rooms should specialize more, choose one or two topics of news, and reserve enough resources to dig very deep within these
niches. Secondly, the news organizations should try to become the leaders of producing this special content, and create an interactive community. Finally, the news rooms could possibly market and sell this expertise to the whole world in many forms: in news, reports, books, and even seminars and conferences. (Of course, the news organizations can also maintain the minimum basic daily national and international news flows as well, but this can be done with the help of the newswires, or cooperating with other news producers.)

This is a new challenge to many news organizations – but they have to focus more in order to survive.

Finally, the best example of a news media success story based on quality reporting is a British magazine - The Economist. The Atlantic tried just recently figure out how did the Economist managed to grow despite the global downturn, and crises of the other news weeklies, Newsweek and Time. In conclusion, the analyses of the Atlantic did not go deep enough in order to find out the meaning of its own research unit, the Economist Business Intelligent unit.

The latest example of the importance of scoops, a
nd quality journalism, is the Daily Telegraphs revelations about MPs expenses. According to the Guardian the paper sold a million extra copies.

(C) Photo by Turo Uskali, 20.5.2009 @ IJ6/Stanford

Thursday, 9 April 2009

The Future of Social Media – Facebook

We, human beings, are social in our very nature, but never before this social. With the help of internet and its social networking services, we are easily connected to each others daily lives.

The leader of the so called social media is Facebook, Palo Alto (CA) with its 200 million active users. According to comScore Inc. News Corporation’s MySpace is in the second place with about 130 million active members.

But the success has not come easily to Facebook. The company, founded 2004, has experienced many setbacks during its way. Several times the users have rebelled against Facebook’s redesigns, copyright demands, and the use of private information. But the young guru of the company, Mark Zuckerberg, 24, has been able to sustain the most valuable asset of the social media, the trust. By hearing the complains, admitting the mistakes, and reversing its harmful decisions, Facebook still exists. Moreover, this humble, quick to learn behaviour indicates a great future for the company.

However, there is still one big open question to be solved: How to find sustainable business models for social media? The latest news/rumours about Google’s video sharing service (claimed to be the second biggest search engine in the world), YouTube’s, financial problems are alarming. According the Guardian (9.4.2009) an analyst with Credit Suisse, Spencer Wang estimates that the video site is due to lose $470m this year – Google bought the video sharing site for $1.65bn in 2006.

Facebook’s greatest “inventions” so far has been its news feed and the storage of open source applications. According to Venture Beat (8.4.2009) in December, Facebook said that more than 660,000 developers from more than 180 countries have built apps for the platform, with some 52,000 apps currently available.

It is likely that Facebook needs still more funding, and time to find its best revenue models. Many experts have predicted that the next step for Facebook will be - a listed company. In other words, following the steps of the Big Brother, Google.

Latest News:

CNN.com: Facebook nearly as large as U.S. population (16.9.2009)

"The news that Facebook has tripled in size in the past year has grabbed headlines, but the real news was that the social network is now - in Mark Zuckerberg's words - "free cash flow positive". That piece of accounting jargon indicates that, after more than five years, the site has taken the first major step towards becoming an honest-to-god profit-making company and (perhaps) indicates that a stock market launch could finally become a possibility."

The Guardian: How exactly is Facebook making money? (16.9.2009)

TechCrunch: If Facebook Is Worth $10 Billion, Twitter is Worth $1.7 Billion (5.6.2009)

MediaPost: Facebook could face Friedster's fate (3.6.2009)

BusinessJournal: Reports: Facebook rejects funding at $4B, $2B valuations (16.4.2009)

TechCrunch: Decision Time For Facebook: Term Sheet Received At $2 Billion Valuation (15.4.2009)

Fortune Magazine: Is Facebook losing its glow? (15.4.2009)

The Guardian: Facebook now accounts for one third of all online social networking time (15.4.2009)

"By allowing a torrent of status updates into our Facebook pages, the company has destroyed what made it special: its ability to construct a constantly updated newspaper about us. With Twitter-like updates, the site has lost its intimacy, flooding us with a lot of white noise."

OmMalik/GigaOm: Facebook: Population 200M, Faces an Identity Crisis (8.4.2009)

"On the questions about Facebook's business strategy: "It's a really simple answer, which is that our business is advertising. We're not waiting to find our business. We found it, and it's actually working very well."

Business Week: COO Sheryl Sandberg on Facebook's Future (8.4.2009)

Mercury News: Facebook reaches 200 million user mark (8.4.2009)

Venture Beat: A look at Facebook's latest statistics: More status updates? More content sharing? (8.4.2009)

Facebook/Mark Zuckerberg: 200 Million Strong (8.4.2009)

Monday, 30 March 2009

The Future of Information Business – Google

Digitized 'information business' is a hard one. There are more losers than winners. Many old business models and even industries are in ruins or at least in jeopardy, because of the internet, and the ongoing economic downturn. The shift of the advertisements from the newspapers into the net has been especially dramatic, and disastrous for the print media in the U.S.

What has not changed is the need for information, and advertising has proved to be the best source of revenues for the old and new media companies. In digitized world the most convenient and efficient way to find information is to use search engines and their algorithms. The winner of this game, so far, has been Google (including the founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin) from Mountain View, California. According to the Financial Times (27.3.2009) search advertising business is holding up far better in the recession than other forms of online advertising, being more precise $10.5 billion for 2008, up 20% (WSJ, 30.3.2009).

It is paradoxical that Google with its mission and ambition to share all world’s information for free has been one of the most secret companies in the world. It took years for reporters to enter for the first time to the Googleplex. According to The New York Times (14.6.2006) Google's inclination to secrecy began in its days as a private company in an effort to keep its rivals from determining the profits it was making from Web search advertising. But since that its culture of secrecy has grown to pervade virtually all of itsdealings with the news media and even its business partners.

It can be argued that the future of the information business is Google. As media entrepreneur Jeff Jarvis has said “Google defines the new digital economy” (The Guardian, 17.11.2008). Therefore, we need continuously, and critically, research what Google is doing, and what are the impacts and implications of its maneuvers in information business. There is a genuine danger that Google starts act like an information monopoly if not challenged or regulated.

Table: MediaPost, 31.3.2009
(C) Photo by Turo Uskali, 12.5.2006 @ Google Press Day

Latest News

Daily Telegraph: Google under investigation for alleged breach of EU competition rules (24.2.2010)

"A Paris court has found Google guilty of copyright infringement in a ruling which could have ramifications for its plans to digitise the world's books. - - This court case will be seen as a victory for critics of the plan who fear Google is creating a monopoly over information. "
BBC News: Fine for Google over French books (18.12.2009)

Surge in search innovation.

CEO, Eric Schmidt: “The brutal economic answer is that the Internet does in fact change other people’s businesses because of this massive distribution.”
The New York Times: How Good (or Not Evil) Is Google? (21.6.2009)

PCMag.com: Google Reinvents Email, Docs with 'Google Wave' (28.5.2009)
Google (DEMO): Google Waves (1.6.2009, 120 min)
The NYT:
Preparing to Sell E-Books, Google Takes on Amazon (31.5.2009)

"Google's co-founder, Larry Page, admitted today that the company has been losing out to Twitter in the race to meet web user's demand for real-time information."
The Guardian: Google 'falling behind Twitter' (19.5.2009)

The Guardian: Google faces antitrust investigation over $125m book deal (29.4.2009)
Forbes: Why Google Is The New Pirate Bay (17.4.2009)

"Spending on US search advertising will decline this year, the first time the market – dominated by Google – has faced a serious downturn, analysts predict."
FT: Search ad spending predicted to fall (9.4.2009)

The newspaper industry can dig itself out of trouble – but only if it starts innovating. - - Turmoil in the print industry was the result of newspapers failing to keep up with the pace of change – and ignoring their readers' wishes."
The Guardian:
Newspapers must keep innovating, says Google chief Eric Schmidt

"Google's net income in 2008 was $22 billion, just under half of the entire newspaper industry (roughly $45 billion). Newspapers operated at 10 to 11 percent margins, Google at roughly 20 percent."
The Biz Blog/Poynter:
Google CEO Should Pledge Help at NAA; AP Targets Aggregators (6.4.2009)

BuzzMachine/Jeff Jarvis:
Why Google should want Twitter: Currency (5.4.2009)

Forbes: Murdoch Wants A Google Rebellion (3.4.2009)
Google Starts Venture Capital Fund (31.3.2009)

WSJ: Google Aims to Connect Ads for TV, YouTube (27.3.2009)
LAT: Google changes search results, snippets (24.3.2009)

Latest Interviews

"We are advertising company."

"We think the 20 percent time is really the only way that we have been able to maintain our innovations as we get larger."

Charlie Rose: Google CEO Eric Schmidt (Video, 6.3.2009)

Latest Comments:

"I urged Google to come up with a revenue-share plan using Google News as a platform and opening the ad spigot. It would benefit itself by turning on another revenue source, and help news publishers by paying them according to the number of clicks through to their content by Google News users.

Steve Outing: How can newspapers help Google? (12.4.2009)

Eric Schonfeld (TechCrunch/WP):
Does Google Really Control The News? (11.4.2009)


Auletta, Ken. 2009. Googled. The End of the World as We Know It. The Penguin Press, New York.
The New York Review Of Books/Robert Darnton
(12.2.2009): Google & the Future of Books
Jarvis, Jeff. 2009. What Would Google Do?
Vise. A. David & Malseed, Mark. 2006.
The Google Story: Inside the Hottest Business, Media, and Technology Success of Our Time.
Battelle, John. 2005. The Search: How Google and Its Rivals Rewrote the Rules of Business and Transformed Our Culture.