"In November 2011, the UN invited representatives from 194 states to discuss climate change at the COP17 Conference (17th Conference of Parties) in Durban, South Africa. CNN launched the ECOSPHERE Project and brought the world to the COP17 Climate Change Conference – with a hashtag.
The CNN ECOSPHERE is a digital ecosystem growing from thousands of tweets about climate change. A real–time visualisation of the global discussion on the internet.
Every #COP17 tweet stimulated growth in one of the numerous plants representing topics like Sustainability or Carbon. The size, colour and growth rate of these plants gave users a fascinating view of how the international conversation was evolving.
CNN invited people to plant a thought with hashtag #COP17 and brought the project to the COP17 Conference. Here a live digital installation connected delegates with contributions from all over the world–getting more people involved in a climate change conference than ever before."
"There are few things journalists like to discuss more than, well, themselves and the long–term prospects for their industry. How long will print newspapers survive? Are news aggregation sites the future? Or are online paywalls – such as the one the New York Times just launched – the way to go? As media organizations plot their future, it's worth discarding some misconceptions about what it will take to keep the press from becoming yesterday's news.
1. The traditional news media are losing their audience.
Many predicted that the rise of the Internet and online publishing meant that mainstream media organizations would lose their readers and viewers, with technology breaking their oligarchic control over news. But that's not the overall picture.
Yes, people are migrating online. In 2010, the Internet passed newspapers for the first time as the platform where Americans 'regularly' get news, according to survey data from the Pew Research Center. Forty–six percent of adults say they go online for news at least three times a week, as opposed to 40 percent who read newspapers that often. Only local television news is a more popular destination, at 50 percent.
But online news consumers are heading primarily to traditional sources. Of the 25 most popular news Web sites in the United States, for instance, all but two are 'legacy' media sources, such as the New York Times or CNN, or aggregators of traditional media, such as Yahoo or Google News. Of the roughly 200 news sites with the highest traffic, 81 percent are traditional media or aggregators of it. And some old media are seeing their overall audience – in print and on the Web – grow.
The crisis facing traditional media is about revenue, not audience. And in that crisis, newspapers have been hardest hit: Ad revenue for U.S. newspapers fell 48 percent from 2006 to 2010.
2. Online news will be fine as soon as the advertising revenue catches up.
Such hopes are misplaced. In 2010, Web advertising in the United States surpassed print advertising for the first time, reaching $26 billion. But only a small fraction of that, perhaps less than a fifth, went to news organizations. The largest share, roughly half, went to search engines, primarily Google. The newspaper industry illustrates the problem. Even though about half the audience may now be accessing papers online, the newspaper industry took in $22.8 billion last year in print ad revenue but only $3 billion in Web–based revenue.
Journalism thrived in decades past because news media were the primary means by which industry reached customers. In the new media landscape, there are many ways to reach the audience, and news represents only a small share.
3. Content will always be king.
The syllogism that helped journalism prosper in the 20th century was simple: Produce the journalism (or 'content') that people want, and you will succeed. But that may no longer be enough.
The key to media in the 21st century may be who has the most knowledge of audience behavior, not who produces the most popular content. Understanding what sites people visit, what content they view, what products they buy and even their geographic coordinates will allow advertisers to better target individual consumers. And more of that knowledge will reside with technology companies than with content producers.
Google, for instance, will know much more about each user than will the proprietor of any one news site. It can track users' online behavior through its Droid software on mobile phones, its Google Chrome Web browser, its search engine and its new tablet software.
The ability to target users is why Apple wants to control the audience data that goes through the iPad. And the company that may come to know the most about you is Facebook, with which users freely share what they like, where they go and who their friends are.
4. Newspapers around the world are on the decline.
Actually, print circulation worldwide was up more than 5 percent in the past five years, and the number of newspapers is growing. In general, print media are thriving in the developing world and suffering in rich nations. Print newspaper ad revenue, for instance, rose by 13 percent in India and by 10 percentin Egypt and Lebanon in the last year for which data is available. But it fell by 8 percent in France and 20 percent in Japan.
The forces tied to a thriving print newspaper industry include growing literacy, expanding population, economic development and low broadband penetration. In India, for example, the population is growing and becoming more literate, but a substantial portion is not yet online.
By and large, American newspapers are suffering the most. Roughly 75 percent of their revenue comes from advertising, vs. 30 percent or 40 percent in many other countries, where papers live and die by circulation. That means the collapse of advertising is not hitting papers elsewhere as hard as it is hitting them here. It also suggests that the need to charge for online access may be even more important abroad.
5. The solution is to focus on local news.
Going 'hyperlocal' was the war cry of Wall Street to the news industry five years ago. The reasoning was simple: In the Internet age, when users can access content from anywhere, it didn't make sense for local operations to compete with the big national news providers.
The problem is that hyperlocal content, by definition, has limited appeal. To amass an audience large enough to generate significant ad revenue, you have to produce a large volume of content from different places, and that is expensive. On top of that, many hyperlocal advertisers are not yet online, limiting the ad dollars.
Now we are entering what might be called Hyperlocal 2.0, and the market is still up for grabs. Google, which garners two–thirds of all search advertising dollars nationally, doesn't exert similar control over local advertising. Locally, display ads – all those banners and pop–ups – are a bigger share of the market than search ads.
But how to produce local content remains a mystery. Can you put paywalls around it? Can you build a 'pro–am' model, in which professional journalists work with low–paid amateurs to produce a comprehensive report? Or will the winner be something like AOL's Patch, in which hundreds of hyperlocal sites are owned by a single company that can connect those readers with major advertisers?
So far, no one has really cracked the code for producing profitable local news online.
Tom Rosenstiel is director of the Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism. He is the co–author, with Bill Kovach, of 'Blur: How to Know What's True in the Age of Information Overload.'"
(Tom Rosenstiel, 7 April 2011, The Washington Post)
"Adobe has repeatedly said that Apple mobile devices cannot access 'the full web' because 75% of video on the web is in Flash. What they don't say is that almost all this video is also available in a more modern format, H.264, and viewable on iPhones, iPods and iPads. YouTube, with an estimated 40% of the web's video, shines in an app bundled on all Apple mobile devices, with the iPad offering perhaps the best YouTube discovery and viewing experience ever. Add to this video from Vimeo, Netflix, Facebook, ABC, CBS, CNN, MSNBC, Fox News, ESPN, NPR, Time, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Sports Illustrated, People, National Geographic, and many, many others."
(Steve Jobs, April 2010)
Fig.1 video of iPhone mugging attempt on Steven Levy's phone.
"On Saturday June 13th, as protests began to flare on streets across Iran, 10.5m American TV–viewers naturally turned to CNN [...] Unfortunately, instead of protests many of them saw CNN's veteran, Larry King, interviewing burly motorcycle–builders. [...] [Yet,] thanks to the internet, dedicated news–watchers knew what they were missing. Twitter and YouTube carried a stream of reports, pictures and film from Iran's streets. The internet also facilitated media criticism. [...] A typical post: 'Iran went to hell. Media went to bed.'
[...] By June 16th Americans were getting decent reports, and even Mr King was paying attention to the story. [...] Meanwhile the much–ballyhooed Twitter swiftly degraded into pointlessness. [...] Even at its best the site gave a partial, one–sided view of events. Both Twitter and YouTube are hobbled as sources of news by their clumsy search engines.
Much more impressive were the desk–bound bloggers. Nico Pitney of the Huffington Post, Andrew Sullivan of the Atlantic and Robert Mackey of the New York Times waded into a morass of information and pulled out the most useful bits. Their websites turned into a mish–mash of tweets, psephological studies, videos and links to newspaper and television reports. It was not pretty, and some of it turned out to be inaccurate. But it was by far the most comprehensive coverage available in English. The winner of the Iranian protests was neither old media nor new media, but a hybrid of the two."
(The Economist, 18th June 2008)
"Man is God. He is everywhere, he is anybody, he knows everything. This is the Prometeus new world. All started with the Media Revolution, with Internet, at the end of the last century. Everything related to the old media vanished: Gutenberg, the copyright, the radio, the television, the publicity. The old world reacts: more restrictions for the copyright, new laws against non authorized copies. Napster, the music peer to peer company is sued. At the same time, free internet radio appears; TIVO, the internet television, allows to avoid publicity; the Wall Street Journal goes on line; Google launches Google news. Millions of people read daily the biggest on line newspaper. Ohmynews written by thousands of journalists; Flickr becomes the biggest repository in the history of photos, YouTube for movies. The power of the masses. A new figure emerges: the prosumer, a producer and a consumer of information. Anyone can be a prosumer. The news channels become available on Internet. The blogs become more influential than the old media. The newspapers are released for free. Wikipedia is the most complete encyclopedia ever. In 2007 Life magazine closes. The NYT sells its television and declares that the future is digital. BBC follows. In the main cities of the world people are connected for free. At the corners of the streets totems print pages from blogs and digital magazines. The virtual worlds are common places on the Internet for millions of people. A person can have multiple on line identities. Second Life launches the vocal avatar. The old media fight back. A tax is added on any screen; newspapers, radios and televisions are financed by the State; illegal download from the web is punished with years of jail. Around 2011 the tipping point is reached: the publicity investments are done on the Net. The electronic paper is a mass product: anyone can read anything on plastic paper. In 2015 newspapers and broadcasting television disappear, digital terrestrial is abandoned, the radio goes on the Internet. The media arena is less and less populated. Only the Tyrannosaurus Rex survives. The Net includes and unifies all the content. Google buys Microsoft. Amazon buys Yahoo! and become the world universal content leaders with BBC, CNN and CCTV. The concept of static information – books, articles, images – changes and is transformed into knowledge flow. The publicity is chosen by the content creators, by the authors and becomes information, comparison, experience. In 2020 Lawrence Lessig, the author of 'Free Culture', is the new US Secretary of Justice and declares the copyright illegal. Devices that replicate the five senses are available in the virtual worlds. The reality could be replicated in Second Life. Any one has an Agav (agent–avatar) that finds information, people, places in the virtual worlds. In 2022 Google launches Prometeus, the Agav standard interface. Amazon creates Place, a company that replicates reality. You can be on Mars, at the battle of Waterloo, at the Super Bowl as a person. It's real. In 2027 Second Life evolves into Spirit. People become who they want. And share the memory. The experiences. The feelings. Memory selling becomes a normal trading. In 2050 Prometeus buys Place and Spirit. Virtual life is the biggest market on the planet. Prometeus finances all the space missions to find new worlds for its customers: the terrestrial avatar. Experience is the new reality."
[Despite the clear problems with such techno–utopian predictions this clip highlights the significance of our current convergence inclination.]