i, Novak

A media executive's reflections on the challenges society in general and traditional media in particular face in this age of digital revolution.

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Are you digital enough?

Having resignated to failure in the #Blogg100 challenge, stopping so close from the finishing line (at 91 tools tested), I am still proud of having achieved my one personal goal: to strengthen my digital competence.

Having gone through 91 digital tools and services - trying them all - today I am less reluctant to test new things, I am more open to change, to all the great new opportunities that are out there.

While carrying out the tests, I graded the tools for difficulty - and the average score was actually below 0,5. So if you feel all these new tools are too technical, too hard to incorporate into your routines: think again.

Today, I blog on INMA.org on this topic - and on the fact that news media for a long time have known that the landscape outside is becoming more digital than their operations. Their customer has digital as default - and we still have print people in charge.

We’ ve already had years for this transition. Who will be the first to follow Alan Paton’ s stern advice: put the digital people in charge of everything?

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We will not disclose personal information that is not published to your profile … /./…without your consent or to carry out your instructions…/./… unless LinkedIn has a good faith belief that disclosure is permitted by law…
From Linkedins updated Privacy Policy. It wording brings a certain uneasiness. Who will write a policy that gives us users a sense of security?

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# 91 - lodging finder

Globalization. A work market evolving towards constantly greater flexibility and agility. The new individualists urge to optimize. These are some of the drivers behind the relocation increase. Actually the trend is predicted to continue and sharpen.

And before your private economy is solid enough for a property investment, what is more useful than a lodging finding service.

Roomster

Trying to find it, Google serves me lots of Skoda links. Note to people kick-starting digital ventures: check if the name is already taken. If so: change it.
Having by-passed this hick-up, I find a very easily navigated page, where I quickly find “my” category: Room for rent (please note, I have no room for rent, I signed up just to check this service out).

You are asked to volunteer quite a lot of information but it’s all very relevant considering you are supposed to live together: ages in the household, gender, smoking/non-smoking, work-hours etc.

Since I did not wish to trick any person into believing there is a cheap room for rent, I never published my ad. And reading the reviews over the site, I am happy I didn’t.

According to crowd reviews, the site is not trustworthy.

Given the Facebook environment, one tends to think that there would be enough eyeballs around to make it efficient. But according to Socialbaker’s check-up on viewers history, Roomster is currently crashing.

There must be better ways for people looking for lodging. Do you have any suggestions to great services I can list here?

Difficulty on a 0-5 scale: 0
Will I use it again after the #Blogg100 challenge: Never.

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# 90 - incident map

Not actually a tool, but definitely a service and a useful intake source for any news outlet.

TheGlobalIncidentMap

is a constantly updated map of world events like plane crashes, forest fires or disease outbreaks.  The data is not automatically entered into the database but manually reviewed prior to publication. At a first glance one tends to react to this negatively. Why can’t they have live aggregation of trusted sources?

Guardian wrote about it in 2008, calling the service a demo - and little seems to have happened since.

I wouldn’t trusted more than as an indicator of something that needs checking. Much like how we treat tips coming in to the newsdesk from the public. 

But it’s open source. And it ‘s free.
Which is not the case with reputed defense and security intelligence company and their data.

Another thought after having scrutinized this map service: you get a sense of Armageddon when you watch all these more or less serious incidents occurring constantly around the world. It’s looks so massive.

A question for publishers: what is the balance between accidents, crimes and other grewsome content on your news site? And, even more important: which image of reality are your relaying? 

Difficulty on a 0-5 scale: 0
Will I use it again after the #Blogg100 challenge: I might. 

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# 89 - hair-style simulator

I know. It’s not weekend yet, but with spring flowers budding in a Stockholm traumatized by a long and hard winter, I can’t help feeling light-headed, going for “fun” rather than “serious” while browsing the digital tools left to be tested. 

Found this fun app, where you can test hair styles, before actually going to the hair dresser and the no-return-decision.

MagicMirror hair styler (iPhone, Android)

Extremely easy to grasp, just take a picture of yourself, drag it to the correct position and start testing hairstyles. You can pick the length, the style - and even test a new tone.

I don’t know if I would base myself on the result, before radically changing hair-style. But it’s great fun. Bored? Then do try some wild-and-crazy suggestions with some friends. If you dare to become laughing stock, that is.

Difficulty on a 0-5 scale: 0
Will I use it again after the #Blogg100 challenge: I doubt it.

 

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# 88 - mirror

Some years ago, I had the privilege of meeting and discussing innovation with brilliant Andreas Forsberg, then senior manager of leadership development at Nokia; today he is spreading his experience and wizdom via LeadingHighPerformance.

One aspect of the technological evolution that he taught me, and that I will forever associate with him, is that our mobile phones no longer are phones. They are “mobile devices” - since we do so much more with them than just call people.

The clock is the most used feature according to some studies. Other common activities include anything from setting/stopping the alarm to checking mails and reading.

We actually glance at our phone up to 150 times a day, according to a study commissioned by Andreas former employer.

But the multi-facetted utility of the mobile device often comes in handy even when you are not doing any of the above.
If you don’t like using the camera, there are apps that will turn your mobile device (not phone!) into a pocket mirror.

I decided to compare two free alternatives.

@Mirror (works with anything that starts with an i)
vs
MyMirror (see above notice)

Simple download in both cases. MyMirror comes with a choice of five different (but all ugly) frames - but @Mirror has its digital zoom. The premium version also has  a “night mode”.

Both work absolutely fine, if it’s just a quick check in the mirror to check that there is no toothpaste left, before you enter the office.
I wouldn’t be able to tell you why, but I sense a better picture quality in @Mirror. It’s actually so performant that I wonder if it is also able to analyze the image - since I immediately get mobile ads for skin impurity products. 

Difficulty on a 0-5 scale: Way below 0.

Will I use them again after the #Blogg100 challenge: At times.




 

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# 87 - news aggregation

The constantly increasing offer of media types and the explosion of social media results in a more and more challenging situation for anyone who wants to keep up-do-date.
There is a dramatic rise of data volumes,  everything seem to be on the rise - except for the amount of hours in a day that are available to you when it comes to following the feeds and consuming their content.

When I was running a workshop in Uppsala last week, someone quoted Clay Shirky’s famous words: “It’s not information overload, it’s filter failure”. And I believe 2013 will be the year when we start organizing our media consumption patterns. 
Gone will be the days when we were “surfing” freely, following whims and having fun discovering. The tsunami wave of information is best consumed spoonful by spoonful.

I decided to test a simple way to aggregate, already available. 

Pulse (iPhone, Android, Kindle Fire)

RSS readers cannot be simpler than this. Choose the topic/s you are interested in. Add your favourite social networks. Adapt the design to your liking. And start your new life, consuming content you enjoy, without first having to spend time wading through content mud.

Now, there is a trick with aggregation. Let’s say you’ re not a football fan. So you are more than happy to skip the sports sources. But the day when you’re national team is disputing the world championship final, you most likely would like to follow the event. 

The answer is that the “either-or”-solution will fail. It’s not either having news editors make the choices for you - or making them for yourself. It’s both. It’s primarily your choices, resulting in more relevant news feeds. And the editor’s choice. Serving you the stuff you didn’t really know you wanted or needed.

To me Pulse is starting in the wrong end, with brands in stead of topics. Worst case scenario resulting in lots of doubles, actually polluting my news feed in stead of curating it. 

On top of it, I find competing aggregator Flipboard so much more attractive when it comes to the user experience.

Pulse was early on the aggregator market, but will have to turn up the pulse to be able to continue to compete.

Difficulty on a 0-5 scale: 0
Will I use it again after the #Blogg100 challenge: No.




 

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# 86 - private messages

Working in traditional media, as I have done during my entire career, means taking things like protection of sources, integrity and privacy questions seriously. Now, we used to be pretty good at this during the pre-Internet era. But with technological development evolving faster than in-house competence, we are starting to commit errors.

Sending non-encrypted mails is often compared with sending postcards. And if you are not a programmer, encryption might be way above what you can master.

I decided to try and simple but efficient tool that allows you to send simple messages over the internet in what the service providers claim is secure:

Privnote

The service is very simple. Just write your message, it will translate into a URL that you can send to the person of your choice. It will then - in an almost “Mission impossible-like” manner self-destruct within a couple of seconds. 

There has a been a heated debate in some forums on the security issue - and my digital competence is way too low to enter into it. Maybe this blogpost gives further clues.

Being schooled as a critical thinking journalist, I am somewhat suspicious of all information transfers on the internet. So I wouldn’t trust this with sensitive material anyway. And I can see a potential danger in people using the service for spreading threats. 

But it’s easy. And the self-destruction feature so neat.

Difficulty on a 0-5 scale: 0
Will I use it again after the #Blogg100challenge: I might, for fun.

 

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# 85 - weekday determination

Sweden and Denmark are on the global innovation top-ten list. No matter if it is the European Union, some consultancy firm or some organization behind the ranking.
Scandinavians seem to be in the creativity elite. And has been for some years now.

Sweden has the oldest press freedom act in the world, dated 1766.
Is it this long tradition of a free and open society?
The public pre-schools?
The free education?

I am not going to even try to answer that question here today. But I just want to send all of you struggling in this constantly and increasingly rapidly changing world to adapt, a thought. What if the ability to joke - and laugh together - is an important factor?

Erdetfredag

It’s Danish and the translation is simply, “Is it Friday”?
Having tried it, today, on a Thursday, the answer is: “Nej” (No).

For a conclusive test, I should return to the site tomorrow.
Thank you, @orjanpekka, publisher of Sweden’s northern-most newspaper, Haparandabladet, for giving me a reason to smile today.
Hopefully, this evening, there will be another one…

Difficulty on a 0-5 scale: outside, or rather, below any scale
Will I use it again after the #Blogg100challenge: if ever I completely lose track of time and dates, I feel reassured knowing there is a Danish site to guide me.

Transparency information: I am currently on the board of directors of the publication mentioned above.

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# 84 - picture messaging

In the western world, we are so privileged that time has become a more valuable currency than money. 
This fact drives many of the trends in today’s media landscape: the consumer behaviours like scanning (in stead of actually reading), quick “fixations”, attentions deficits etcetera.

Did you know that web users read a maximum of 20 percent of a webpage? (Source: Nielsen)

The internet sceptics lament this fact and get strong support from those worrying about possible negative consequences of the digitalization. Some claim this will lead to a new illiteracy even though new research from Örebro University (in Swedish) in Sweden shows that children with tablets develop reading and writing skills faster than pupils taught with traditional methods.

Others don’t lament. They merely see the opportunity of creating tools that help us continue to do what we want to do - in less time.

Snapchat  (iPhone, Android)

is a photo messaging application which allows you to tell your friends what you are up to - without writing a single letter or text. And it’s already a hit. According to  
Business Insider, there are already 150 million photo messages sent every day.


It’s truly user friendly to get started. Just shoot your picture, decide with whom you wish to share it - and even for how long (!). Snapshot even alerts you if you have asked the photo to be removed but one of your friends tries to grab a screenshot of it. 

Great service!

Being a letters person myself, I am not sure Snapshot will be my first-hand choice of communicating. But according to the founders, I am not the target group. The young adults are.

And who knows? Perhaps they and the old saying was right after all: maybe a picture does say more than a thousand words?

Difficulty on a 0-5 scale: 0
Will I use it again after the #Blogg100 challenge: Don’t think so.