If you’ve been following the media industry over the past year, you probably don’t need anyone to tell you the waves of disruption continue to increase in both height and frequency — so the news that widespread cutbacks have caused dissatisfied readers to flee won’t come as much of a surprise. But while those waves have swamped some traditional players, other parts of the industry have been able to ride the tide, and non-traditional sources continue to play a growing role in how people get their news — although whether that is good or bad is still open for debate.
All of that and more is contained in the latest State of the Media report from the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism…There’s a lot to take in, but here are what I believe to be some of the key takeaways:
The Bad News:
Cutbacks continue, and consumers are leaving: Close to one-third of U.S. adults say they have stopped using a news outlet because of dissatisfaction over the content — in other words, because they weren’t getting the news they wanted, or the news they expected to get. Survey respondents mentioned both fewer stories in general and less complete reporting, and while it’s impossible to know whether this phenomenon is related to the repeated rounds of cutbacks and job losses, it seems likely…
The Good News:
Demand for news is growing, not shrinking: Although it may be coming at the expense of some traditional players, there is clearly a large and growing appetite for news, since the top news sites saw traffic increase by 7 percent in 2012, according to Pew. And the impact of social media seems to be clearly positive, in the sense that those who have heard about news from friends and family through such channels show a stronger interest in finding out more…
As with any overview of the media business, there will be those who see this picture as a glass half-empty, and those who see it as a glass half-full — and perhaps a growing number who have completely lost interest in the glass because they are already getting their water elsewhere…upheaval is the order of the day in the media business and will likely be so for some time…
Even now there are new entities being born, and new models being applied — like the Forbes “BrandVoice” model, or Sullivan’s direct-to-readers model — that could either be the savior of the industry or a dangerous distraction. If you like bumpy rides with an uncertain ending, the media industry is definitely the place for you.
RTFA. Lots of meat and potatoes to munch on – both form and content. Producers who come from traditional print journalism are doing better than I thought they might. It may be out of desperation as anything else – like sudden insight – but, the truth will inform you even when it doesn’t set you free.
People are doing this absolutely everywhere!
The fabled Viennese fondness for fine funerals and “a schoene Leich” – a beautiful corpse – is about to get a modern twist.
Digital technology is about to give Austrian gravestones the potential to speak across time by showing pictures and biographies of the people buried below.
All you need is a smartphone equipped with a scanner to read the so-called “quick response” (QR) codes, the square of squiggles already widely used in advertising campaigns to unlock a trove of information for the curious.
The first QR codes will start appearing on graves in Austria within weeks, said Joerg Bauer, project leader for Austrian bereavement company Aspetos, who has been working on the QR project for five years.
Bauer said cemetery visitors could even view videos if connection speeds were high enough, although he frowned on the prospect of disturbing others with loud music…
The codes – first developed in Japan to track car parts in the 1990s – may eventually link music fans with the lives of legendary composers like Beethoven and Mozart enshrined at Vienna’s central cemetery, he said, although local officials say there are no immediate plans for this…
The deployment of QR codes on gravestones has taken off more slowly, perhaps due to privacy concerns of grieving families, but has gained momentum in Japan and is also being experimented with in the United States, Britain, Australia and Germany…
They certainly are being deployed everywhere. I had a choice of 124,000 results searching an image on Google.
Learning in-car technique at a ssu-parazzi school
With his debts mounting and his wages barely enough to cover the interest, Im Hyun-seok decided he needed a new job. The mild-mannered former English tutor joined South Korea’s growing ranks of camera-toting bounty hunters.
Known here sarcastically as paparazzi, people like Mr. Im stalk their prey and capture them on film. But it is not celebrities, politicians or even hardened criminals they pursue. Rather, they roam cities secretly videotaping fellow citizens breaking the law, deliver the evidence to government officials and collect the rewards.
“Some people hate us,” Mr. Im said. “But we’re only doing what the law encourages.”
The opportunities are everywhere: a factory releasing industrial waste into a river, a building owner keeping an emergency exit locked, doctors and lawyers not providing receipts for payment so that they can underreport their taxable income.
Mr. Im’s pet target is people who burn garbage at construction sites, a violation of environmental laws.
“I’m making three times what I made as an English tutor,” said Mr. Im, 39, who began his new line of work around seven years ago and says he makes about $85,000 a year… Wow!
Snitching for pay has become especially popular since the world’s economic troubles slowed South Korea’s powerful economy. Paparazzi say most of their ranks are people who have lost their jobs in the downturn and are drawn by news reports of fellow Koreans making tens of thousands of dollars a year reporting crimes.
There are no reliable numbers of people who have taken up the work since governments at all levels have their own programs, but the phenomenon is large enough that it has spawned a new industry: schools set up to train aspiring paparazzi…
The outsourcing of law enforcement has also been something of a boon for local governments. They say that they can save money on hiring officers, and that the fines imposed on offenders generally outstrip the rewards paid to informers…
For most infractions, rewards can range from as little as about $5 (reporting a cigarette tosser) to as much as $850 (turning in an unlicensed seller of livestock). But there are possibilities for windfalls. Seoul’s city government promises up to $1.7 million for reports of major corruption involving its own staff members…
Not a new idea; but, certainly the most extensive implementation of civilian policing I can recall. Being a bounty hunter – without a gun and the crap ideology it’s wrapped in here in the USofA – is an old and usually honorable profession. Only the crooks and corrupt are serious about their complaints. And honest civilians who criticise the craft – should take a look at the standards they’re using to judge their fellow citizens who own both a conscience and a camera.
The prince of coffee table books believes paper books are dead. Now he wants to be king of the app.
Since 1980, Nicholas Callaway has made the finest of design-driven books, building a publishing house and his fortune on memorable children’s stories and on volumes known for the fidelity of their reproductions of great art. But the quality of paper, ink and binding mean nothing to him now.
For Callaway, it’s all about apps — small applications sold in Apple’s App Store where books are enhanced beyond the mere text of e-books. In this cutting-edge new medium, cooks can clap hands to turn pages of an interactive recipe, a book about Richard Nixon can include footage of him sweating during presidential debates, a Sesame Street character can read a story out loud and, should your child get bored, the app can turn the tale into a jigsaw puzzle or a computerized finger-painting set.
“I have bet the whole ranch on this,” Callaway told Reuters. “This kind of juncture happens maybe once in a century.”
Publishers from New York to London agree this as a moment of huge change. They are adapting to rising sales of e-books, and the popularity of smart phones and tablets such as the iPad. The retail landscape has changed with Amazon becoming the dominant seller of books while countless book stores go the way of video rental stores. America’s No. 2 book store chain, Borders, is bankrupt. Some authors have dropped their publishers entirely, self-publishing online and using social media to connect with readers. Others have become adept at using Facebook and Twitter to reach readers or have attracted fans by becoming popular reviewers of books on Amazon and then publishing their own book.
Callaway is among those who believe the change is just beginning and, in the years to come, the app will change things utterly.
RTFA. Several pages of history, analysis and commentary – decision and the courage to follow that decision to its logical new beginning.
For my part, I think he’s right. Though few have followed through on the breadth of editing and presentation techniques made available by digital media, what I have seen approaches a qualitative change in communication.
Everything a book can offer and more. All the rest is cultural accommodation.
Chemists at Vanderbilt University have created a new class of liquid crystals with unique electrical properties that could improve the performance of digital displays used on everything from digital watches to flat panel televisions.
The achievement…is described by Professor of Chemistry Piotr Kaszynski and graduate student Bryan Ringstrand in a pair of articles published online…in the Journal of Materials Chemistry.
“We have created liquid crystals with an unprecedented electric dipole, more than twice that of existing liquid crystals,” says Kaszynski…
In liquid crystals, the electric dipole is associated with the threshold voltage: the minimum voltage at which the liquid crystal operates.
Higher dipoles allow lower threshold voltages. In addition, the dipole is a key factor in how fast liquid crystals can switch between bright and dark states. At a given voltage, liquid crystals with higher dipoles switch faster than those with lower dipoles…
“Our liquid crystals have basic properties that make them suitable for practical applications, but they must be tested for durability, lifetime and similar characteristics before they can be used in commercial products,” Kaszynski says…
The newly discovered liquid crystals are not only important commercially but they are also important scientifically…
What distinguishes the new class of liquid crystals is its “zwitterionic” structure. Zwitterions are chemical compounds that have a total net electrical charge of zero but contain positively and negatively charged groups. The newly developed liquid crystals contain a zwitterion made up of a negatively charged inorganic portion and a positively charged organic portion. Kaszynski first got the idea of making zwitterionic liquid crystals nearly 17 years ago when he first arrived at Vanderbilt. However, a critical piece of chemistry required to do so was missing. It wasn’t until 2002 when German chemists discovered the chemical procedure that made it possible for the Vanderbilt researchers to succeed in this effort.
Outstanding that Professor Kaszynski stuck with his idea. Part of my fascination with computational analysis is that many aspects of research only become possible sometime after the research begins. Kaszynski gives us an example of chemistry doing the same thing.
Publishers of the Oxford English Dictionary have confirmed that the third edition may never appear in print. A team of 80 lexicographers began working on it following the publication of the second edition in 1989. It is 28% finished. In comments to a Sunday newspaper, Nigel Portwood, chief executive of Oxford University Press, which owns the dictionary, said: “The print dictionary market is just disappearing. It is falling away by tens of percent a year.” Asked if he thought the third edition would appear in printed format, he said: “I don’t think so.” However, an OUP spokeswoman said no decision had been made.
“It is likely to be more than a decade before the full edition is published and a decision on format will be taken at that point,” she said.
“Demand for online resources is growing but large numbers of people continue to purchase dictionaries in printed form and we have no plans to stop publishing print dictionaries.”
The Oxford English Dictionary already publishes revised and new entries online every three months, with a new version of its OED Online website due to be launched in December.
The publisher produces approximately 500 dictionaries, thesauruses and language reference titles in more than 40 languages in a variety of formats.
Ten years from now, I don’t doubt there will be folks who still want a hard copy of some book or other – including the OED. They most likely will be made available as vanity publishers now offer single copies from digital files.
Medication errors are cut by seven-fold when doctors use an electronic system to write prescriptions, compared with scrawling prescriptions by hand, reports a new study by physician-scientists at Weill Cornell Medical College (WCMC), published online recently in the Journal of General Internal Medicine.
“We found nearly two in five handwritten prescriptions in these community practices had errors,” says Dr. Rainu Kaushal, the study’s lead author… “Examples of the types of errors we found included incomplete directions and prescribing a medication but omitting the quantity. A small number of errors were more serious, such as prescribing incorrect dosages…”
“Although most of the errors we found would not cause serious harm to patients, they could result in callbacks from pharmacies and loss of time for doctors, patients and pharmacists,” says senior author Dr. Erika Abramson, assistant professor of pediatrics at WCMC. “On the plus side, we found that by writing prescriptions electronically, doctors can dramatically reduce these errors and therefore these inefficiencies…”
The study noted that, without extensive technical support, it is difficult for physician practices to achieve high rates of use of electronic prescribing and subsequent improvements in medication safety.
In total, the authors reviewed 3,684 paper-based prescriptions at the start of the study and 3,848 paper-based and electronic prescriptions written one year later. After one year, the percentage of errors dropped to 7 percent from 43 percent for the providers using the electronic system; for those writing prescriptions by hand, the percentage of errors increased slightly to 38 percent from 37 percent. Illegibility problems were completely eliminated by e-prescribing.
Timing couldn’t be better for me. This is doctor-day for me and my first stop is with a friend and physician who has resisted putting a computer in his office for 25 years.
When his office manager called yesterday to remind me of the appointment – she couldn’t wait to tell me that Paul has finally computerized his practice.
After we finish our usual discussion of worldly affairs – like Ferrari vs. McLaren – I will try to nudge him along in his entry into the digital age.
As they display in the video, the concept isn’t limited to any single device or style of device. I know from the several regular IPTV productions we watch on the living room TV set – and several more which only interest me; so, I tend to watch them on my monitor in the study – the devil is in the details of how many formats are worth supporting?
I remember the cyber screams of anguish as DLTV’s offering progressed through a couple generations of growth – to the move of 95% of the talent over to Revision3 – as support was dropped for niche formats which garnered a very small number of eyeballs.
How much time and money do you want to dedicate to offering everyone’s favorite format? I’m perfectly capable of handling it in reverse – as should be any geek. If I find something interesting – one time or ongoing – if I can download and record it, I usually can convert it to stream up to our AppleTV and into the HDTV. Or into iTunes or Quicktime and onto my desktop monitor.
Human beings are making it harder for extraterrestials to pick up our broadcasts and make contact, the world’s leading expert on the search for alien life warned yesterday.
At a special meeting on the search for extraterrestrial intelligence (Seti), the US astronomer Frank Drake – who has been seeking radio signals from alien civilisations for almost 50 years – told scientists that earthlings were making it less likely they would be heard in space.
Astronomers assumed that a standard technique for any alien intelligence trying to pinpoint other civilisations in the galaxy would involve seeking signals from TV, radio and radar broadcasts, Drake told the meeting at the Royal Society in London.
Scientists on Earth have been using this method, without success so far, to find evidence of intelligent aliens. The theory is that elsewhere in the galaxy other civilisations would probably be doing the same…
“The trouble is that we are making ourselves more and more difficult to be heard,” said Dr Drake. “We are broadcasting in much more efficient ways today and are making our signals fainter and fainter.”
There is some sort of special conceit in presuming advanced alien civilizations should have stayed with analog transmissions once digital version were available. At least long enough to find us, right?
Amid the flat, wide fields of central France, a team of re-trained secretaries and IT experts is packaging Europe’s literary heritage for the digital era…
The company they work for, Safig, is one of the few European firms to digitize books, using automatic and human page-turners. That places them right at the center of France’s plan for a massive online library, and its attempts to negotiate a digital books deal with U.S. internet giant Google…
Fans of France’s 750 million euro scheme to digitize its libraries and museums see it as a union of cultural pride and industrial strategy — Bruno Racine, head of the Bibliotheque Nationale de France, is also a strategic advisor to NATO, the military alliance.
Skeptics point out that Google’s 10 million digitized books dwarf any French effort so far, such as Safig’s three-year contract to scan 300,000 books for the Bibliotheque Nationale.
One possible outcome is a compromise with Google that would accelerate mass digitization…
France has said it is ready to talk to Google over a joint project, but wants to extract far more generous terms than other partners — for example, through a free book swap.
That stance marks a shift in attitude following the departure of Jean-Noel Jeanneney as director of the Bibliotheque Nationale de France in 2007. Jeanneney was a fierce Google critic and even wrote a book attacking the company’s book project as a threat to non-Anglophone culture.
Under the deal, the Bibliotheque Nationale could let Google use the digitized books and in return would have free access to Google’s far bigger collection.
“We welcome the spirit of the proposal,” Google spokesman Simon Morrison said. “We are happy to talk.”
It’s always good for a chuckle to watch nations fight cultural battles against global communications. There are people in French letters who still oppose translations into other languages. Or they will only allow specific languages in translation.
I had a friend in Warsaw who quite legally translated French classics into Polish – and also enjoined by the owners of IP rights not to translate the same works into English on occasion.