Mobile Journalism: class blog

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Readings + Links for 9-16-09

AFRICA
We will be joined by someone from Ushahidi, a company that’s taking SMS information and adding geolocational information in order to report on elections, humanitarian crisis and more. Started in Africa, this open-source initiative has it’s been used around the world. Please familiarize yourself with their site and some examples of the way it’s being used, including in the recent Afghan elections.

A good overview of mobile reporting in Nairobi:

Would something like this work in the US?

Mobile Media in Africa
Extending Google to Uganda

JAPAN
Japan offers an interesting case study: massively advanced phone hardware, pretty low-rez phone software. And almost no traction outside of the country, says the New York Times.

A good example of both Japanese phone interfaces and some of the next-gen stuff they can do:

Cell Phone Novels in Japan

THE US: APPS BATTLES
These readings are a complement to your App reports, and speak to a larger picture of open systems vs closed systems and technical dominance over a space.
How big is the iPhone economy?
App store censorship issues (a single case–be sure to read the followup linked on the post)
Apple: Rotten to the core?
Google says App Stores are a temporary solution
Before the iPhone

Please give your reactions to these readings in the comments below, to help get our conversations started on the 16th.

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Filed under: readings

3 Responses

  1. I found most of the videos to be very interesting. Lately I have been incredibly intrigued by three things that you brought up here, which, in my opinion, will all be huge.

    1. SMS as a tool (micro payments & consuming/creating news)
    2. Mobile devices as cash devices
    3. The mobile web will soon be the focus, not apps

    1. First, as much as I have discredited it in the past, SMS is an amazingly powerful tool merely for its simplicity. In the past I have made the argument that since the smartphone market is growing so quickly that SMS functionality will soon be replaced by apps, and soon after, the mobile web. Then I am reminded of regions like Africa and Asia, and some parts of developed nations, where many cannot afford smartphones or data plans. The potential for people to use SMS messages like we do email and other web-based applications are many, we only need to think creatively, like the above videos show others to be doing.

    2. Next, I have long hoped for this type cash of functionality in our cell phones to reach the US. It is one of the logical next steps in the evolution of the mobile device. My mobile is always more readily available and with me, and most credit card readers have been updated to read the RFID chips in our plastic cash. This would also open up the door for PayPal-like cash transactions between individual people; for example, your friend that owes you $20, but never carries cash.

    3. Most of the “US Apps Battles” articles I had seen before, and I’ve found this to be a tough topic for me to take a firm stance on. Like we mentioned last class, there is this mentality that mobile is something you pay for, passed down from data plans and ringtones. Therefore, you are inherently programmed to think that you pay for apps as well. Also, we discussed how the mobile web is basically only two years old, and there is so much room for innovation there. This is exactly the type of innovation we are seeing on the “general Internet” where desktop-based applications are being replaced by web-based applications, which are often very cheap or even free. After all, the mobile web and “general Internet” are the same thing, at least following the release of the iPhone. So we are seeing, and will continue to see, this same transgression. As we see data speeds increase and become more reliable, we will see less applications living on the physical device and more live directly on the web. This damages the app store market and mindset that we have to pay for apps. Consequently, as much as I want everything to live on the web, and for free, I also enjoy the current “pay for stuff” mindset.

    No matter what… there is a lot of exciting ground to be covered and more wars to be fought before this is all decided.

    • p.s. This article from Wired, which Sinker posted above, talks perfectly about what will most likely be the standard in the near future for applications, both mobile and PC-based. Applications will live on the specific-device, and therefore will be able to optimize to device-specific features, yet they will integrate heavily with the web. (i.e. the smooth functionality of Tweetie for Mac compared to Adobe Air clients like Tweetdeck and Seesmic Desktop)

      http://www.wired.com/gadgetlab/2009/07/google-app-store/

  2. Re: Apps
    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/05/fashion/05iphone.html

    Article in New York Times a while back about making money off iPhone apps.

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