March 31, 2009

Teens Learn About Sharing Too Much Online

Filed under: Culture,Technology — Emily Reeves @ 6:29 am

It is that time of year when high school students are starting to learn whether they have been accepted to their dream colleges.  But now, rather than knowing with just a glance at the thick or thin envelope that arrives via snail mail in the privacy of their homes, students are learning of admission decisions online.  And they are checking constantly for the updates while in the classroom.  Then, they are posting the results to their Facebook, MySpace and Twitter accounts.  Reported in the LA Times today, however, that public notification could cause tension among friends:

“…for every member of the Facebook nation, even a successful admissions season poses challenges: Should you post your good fortune on your home page before learning whether your best friend got in? Or check your iPhone for online decisions, with everyone watching? If you put your college wish list online, will you be humiliated if the rejections come thick and fast?

“Some students will frantically check their e-mail or BlackBerries at school, a scenario that recently inspired a plot line on “Gossip Girl,” the television show about a New York City prep school. (Checking their Yale applications, lead characters Serena and Dan learned they were admitted, while Blair was wait-listed, launching her on a self-destructive cycle of vengeance.)”

Teens have grown up sharing everything about their lives: the good, the bad and the ugly.  Does this encourage honesty because it becomes harder to lie when everything is revealed online eventually?  Mabye that is an upside of living very public lives.  But, just as I took ettiquette classes as a child when manners were nearing extinction, I wonder if teens should be offered classes that teach them how to protect themselves in this online world as privacy is nearing extinction.

March 30, 2009

Want to Publish Your Own Magazine?

Filed under: Current Events — Emily Reeves @ 5:38 am

Now you can.  The New York Times is reporting today that HP is offering a low-cost printing solution for consumers with start-up magazines.  The new service is called MagCloud.  The magazines are printed on-demand and cost 20-cents per page.  This new type of business model presents a great opportunity for those “consumer journalists” to experiment with what they think might be a cool, niche idea.  My initial thought: if you have a magazine idea, why wouldn’t you just start it as a website?  While I read magazines, I am not sure of the general readership these days.  With the newspaper business declining, it makes sense that the magazine business will be close behind it.  Many magazines are already offering their content as a monthly subscription through Amazon’s Kindle and online, but these outlets just don’t have the same feel.  You can read newspapers on the Kindle and not miss much of the experience, but magazines need that slick paper and those glossy photos that contribute to the experience of reading them.

“It is not clear how big a market there is for small runs of narrow-interest magazines when so much information is available free on the Internet. So far, users of the service, which is still in a testing phase, have produced close to 300 magazines, including publications on paintings by Mormon artists, the history of aerospace, food photography and improving your personal brand in a digital age.

“Aspiring publishers must handle their own writing and design work, sending a PDF file of their creation over the Internet to the MagCloud repository. H.P. farms out the printing jobs to partners scattered around the globe and takes care of billing and shipping for people who order the magazine. While H.P. charges the magazine publishers 20 cents a page, they can charge whatever they like for the completed product.”

I hope this takes off.  I love the idea of being able to experiment with an idea to understand its salience before dumping a large investment of money and time into it.  And, I think the more people we have talking about their passions out in the world, the better.

Work for Displaced Journalists

Filed under: Current Events — Emily Reeves @ 5:19 am

The Huffington Post announced yesterday that it will pay investigative journalists to write about the nation’s economy:

“Work that the journalists produce will be available for any publication or Web site to use at the same time it is posted on The Huffington Post, she said.

“The Huffington Post Web site is a collection of opinionated blog entries and breaking news. It has seven staff reporters.

“Ms. Huffington said she and the donors were concerned that layoffs at newspapers were hurting investigative journalism at a time when the nation’s institutions need to be watched closely. She hopes to draw from the ranks of laid-off journalists.”

With the demise of newspapers on the horizon, there has been much discussion lately about the state of journalism.  The concern: the quality of reporting will decline if we rely only on unpaid “consumer journalists” posting stories online.  The Huffington Post is proposing this solution, with the hope that their actions will encourage other news outlets to do the same.

Mobile Coolness, Continued

Filed under: Technology — Emily Reeves @ 5:07 am

Yesterday, I wrote about some cool things you can start doing with your mobile device.  Today, the New York Times published an article about Skype coming to mobile devices.  Skype is an Internet calling service that allows users to contact (voice or text) other Skype users at no cost and allows users to call landlines at a greatly reduced cost.

“The idea of bringing Skype to mobile phones has always been viewed by cellular operators as potentially threatening. It opens up the possibility that people will use their data plans to make calls using Skype, instead of the more expensive and profitable voice minutes on the carriers’ cellular networks.”

The announcement is expected to come tomorrow and the software is expected to be available for the iPhone, iPod Touch and some Blackberries.

This announcement is testament to the continued increasing importance of mobile devices in our lives.  Communication between us is getting more and more convenient.

March 29, 2009

Mobile Phones and Some Cool Things To Do With Them

Filed under: Technology — Emily Reeves @ 11:40 am

The average American is never further than four feet away from their mobile device at any point throughout the day.*  Cell phones will become a key route for communicating to customers as marketing tools continue to evolve.  How we do that exactly has yet to be determined: opt-in text messaging, advertising on search sites/services (i.e., Cha Cha), and banner ads on mobile-specific websites (i.e., Wall Street Journal Mobile) are a few possibilities.  As mobile technologies continue to enter the marketplace, the importance of cell phones will only increase. This morning, I watched David Pogue’s TED talk “Cool new things you can do with your mobile phone.”  Not only did Mr. Pogue reveal some fun newish technologies, but he was a very entertaining presenter as well (video embedded below for your viewing pleasure).  Here are some of the technologies Mr. Pogue discusses in his TED talk that were particularly interesting to me:

  • Voicemail transcription services. I have been using Phone Tag now for several months, and I agree with Mr. Pogue: it is a blessing.  These services record your voicemail, transcribe it, then send it to you as email or text.  Included with the email is a WAV file of the audio recording so you can listen to it yourself.  It is a fantastic timesaver as you can avoid all the tedious button pressing and voice command maneuvering that is necessary to check regular voicemail.
  • Automated, pre-scheduled calling services. Ok, I made up that description, but that is the best way to describe Popularity Dialer.  This service will call your phone at a pre-determined time, using a voice that you pre-select and allow you to fake a conversation.  When might this be used, you ask?  Maybe you are on a blind date and want a way to get out of it, just in case it is not going well.  Maybe you need people to think you are really popular and that is measured by the number of phone calls you receive.  You can even plan a Popularity Dialer “Affirmation Call” to give you encouragement at time you think you might need it.  This is hilarious.  Disclaimer: I have never used this service.
  • One number for everything. Google Voice recently purchased Grand Central, so it hasn’t launched to the masses yet, but the premise is interesting.  Through this service, Google Voice will provide users with one number that will ring to all of the user’s phones: office, home, cell, etc.  The official description: “Google Voice is a service that gives you one number for all your phones, voicemail that is easy as email, and many enhanced calling features like call blocking and screening, voicemail transcripts, call conferencing, international calls, and more.”  Mr. Pogue talks more about this in his TED talk.  I will be anxious to test it once the service become available.

David Pogue on TED:

*According to a Blake’s Think Tank Twitter post on March 19th.

March 22, 2009

Radio: “The Screen-Free Complement to Online Browsing” (Update)

Filed under: Current Events — Emily Reeves @ 8:09 pm

I will admit that I have never been an avid radio listener.  For the most part, the reason for this lack of interest has been the radio “personalities.”  I have never found one that “clicks” with me.  Unfortunately, I think that local radio has to cater to the lowest common denominator of public taste in order to make the money they need to make to stay on the air.  But, let’s be honest: all media outlets are trying to figure out how to stay in business right now with the free online media onslaught.

Enter NPR.  NPR is growing.  The April issue of Fast Company has an article on NPR:

“In one of the great under-told media success stories of the past decade, NPR has emerged not as the bespectacled schoolmarm of our imagination but as a massive news machine poised for what Dick Meyer, editorial director for digital media, half-jokingly calls ‘world domination.’ NPR’s listenership has nearly doubled since 1999, even as newspaper circulation dropped off a cliff. Its programming now reaches 26.4 million listeners weekly — far more than USA Today‘s 2.3 million daily circ or Fox News’ 2.8 million prime-time audience. When newspapers were closing bureaus, NPR was opening them, and now runs 38 around the world, better than CNN.  It has 860 member stations — ‘boots on the ground in every town’ that no newspaper or TV network can claim. It has moved boldly into new media as well: 14 million monthly podcast downloads, 8 million Web visitors, NPR Mobile, an open platform, a social network, even crowdsourcing. And although the nonprofit has been hit by the downturn like everyone else, its multiple revenue streams look far healthier long term than the ad-driven model of commercial media.”

NPR attributes this growth, and now sustainability, to its multiplatform distribution outlets: it has capitalized on the technology trends.  “It was the first mainstream-media organization to enter podcasting and often has several programs in the iTunes top 10….Traffic on grew 78% from 2007 to 2008.”

This weekend, during a conversation with Blake’s Think Tank, the discussion veered to the importance of offering content to consumers in a format in which they want to receive it: no longer can the media expect consumers to come to them for the content.  We had this conversation in the context of literature, news and the Amazon Kindle.  However as it turns out, this is very relevant when it comes to radio too, evident by NPR’s success.  Radio is a convenience media outlet: “‘People don’t have 15 minutes to sit at home and read the newspaper, but you can get accurate, in-depth reporting as you sit in traffic,’ or make dinner, or clean out the garage.  It’s a screen-free complement to online browsing.”  And, people will get access to this information live by tuning in to the radio, or by downloading and listening on their iPods, or by streaming it from their computers.  NPR has given them the freedom to decide how to consume the information.  And that is making them a winner in this new distribution competition.

While it helps that NPR does not depend on advertising dollars for sustainability, it is dealing with the down economy too: “All sources of funding, from corporate underwriting to foundation grants, dipped last year, causing a projected $23 million budget shortfall for fiscal 2009.”  This news delivery battle will come down to the survival of the fittest.  Will it be radio?

Little Rock’s NPR station can be found on 89.1 and at  Tune in now: according to Fast Company, “…someday soon we may be looking at a world where public radio emerges as the main local-news source in many communities coast to coast.”

UPDATE: Blake’s Think Tank reports on NPR audience increases:

“Washington-based NPR will release new figures to its stations today showing that the cumulative audience for its daily news programs hit 20.9 million a week, a 9 percent increase over the previous year,” reports The Washington Post.”

Arkansas Business Wants To Hear From you

Filed under: Current Events — Emily Reeves @ 5:22 pm

Thank you, Arkansas Business, for recognizing the importance of consumer feedback and for recognizing the power of social media.  For those with feedback, concerns and general comments about the “25 for the Future” list recently published by Arkansas Business, please visit Lance Turner’s “The Ladder” blog and give the publication your thoughts.  Arkansas Business is encouraging feedback.  And, that is a good thing, regardless of your opinion on the list.  Now, what the publication does with the feedback will be just as important.  I am anxious to see the outcome.

March 21, 2009

Dear Arkansas Business, (UPDATE)

Filed under: Current Events — Emily Reeves @ 4:58 am

Congratulations on the 25th anniversary.  I am proud that Arkansas has a respected business publication, and I appreciate the news and features in the weekly editions of Arkansas Business.  Thank you for your contributions to the state and its business population.

I am writing to respond to 25th Anniversary Edition’s list of “25 for the Future.” I was stunned by the lack of female representatives on this list: 3.5 women and 21.5 men (half designations for the #22 split).  Surely someone noticed this unbalanced distribution as the selections were made (using what I have to assume was the official criteria of “likely to impact the state based on their family wealth and position, and others have just exhibited a spark of potential”)?

I don’t believe that finding future-thinking women with a “spark of potential” would have been difficult.  Women make up 51% of the state’s population.  The Women’s Foundation of Arkansas has an Emerging Leaders program.  I work with many bright and talented women in business around the state everyday.  Chamber leadership programs are conducted around the state and include both men and women.

Please understand that I do not think that the men on the list are undeserving of the designation.  Most of the honorees certainly deserve the recognition.  I am simply disappointed by what comes across as an old-fashioned point-of-view about business and leadership, rather than the progressive one I know this state aspires to achieve.

Coming soon to Ms. Adverthinker: profiles and interviews with women who will shape Arkansas’s future.


Ms. Adverthinker

UPDATE: Arkansas Business has pointed out that they included a list of “25 Women Leaders” in the 25th Anniversary Edition as well.  While this is a good thing, this does not counterbalance the “25 for the Future” list; if anything, it is the counterpart to the “25 Living Legends” (a list including only one woman, which is understandable as it is representation of the past).  In this 25th Anniversary edition, the “25 for the Future” was given prominent placement, which is, of course, why it will receive the most criticism.  I maintain my opinion that the balance men to women on the “future” list is severely lacking.

As I noted above, Arkansas Business is welcoming your feedback, which is impressive.  Tell them what you think of the lists.