Archive for category Technology

Tuition fees for 2012…Google Map style

The Guardian‘s Data Blog has essentially released a massive customised Google Map detailing a selection of universities throughout the UK and what they’ll be charging next year.

Granted, it’s a little more complex than what we did in class, but I still can’t help but chuckle, knowing I can do one of these Google maps too 🙂

Worth a look – another topic that will no doubt endure further debate and heated discussion well into next year…

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The death of Osama bin Laden: NYT plots reactions on an interactive map

One of the most exciting and entertaining element of online news, for me, is our ability to harness data and display it like never before.

I’ve been a massive fan of the website Information is Beautiful for many years, and I really like the Guardian‘s Data Store, which features great visual guides to the most recent topics in the media.

Reactions to the Alternative Voting System (or AV) according to the gospel of Twitter. (Image courtesty guardian.co.uk)

The New York Times is another publication which produces some amazing multimedia work and today I came across this:

The Death of a Terrorist: A Turning Point?

It invites readers to plot their reactions to two questions: How much of a turning point in the war on terror will Bin Laden’s death represent?  and What is your emotional response? The former is gauged from significant to insignificant; the latter from positive to negative. It’s a really easy way to see people’s reactions – it’s well worth a look.

Information, particularly comment and opinion, can take on a whole new meaning when it can be turned into something visual and interactive – it’s so much easier to understand and even analyse and it’s a brilliant way of transforming the mundane into an issue worth further discussion.

Osama bin Laden’s death will be the talking point of many debates over the next few weeks and months.  ‘A Safer World‘ a discussion held at  The Front Line Club this evening on the ramifications for Pakistan, Afghanistan and the West, sold out in hours and just earlier this afternoon I was listening to a podcast from the Australian Broadcasting Corporation discussing about the effects Osama’s death could have on Obama’s presidential campaign for the elections next year.

The NYT shows that this type of information could be valuable in determining how the public feel about these issues, not just the ‘experts’.

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Facebook in China

Will the Chinese finally be able to fully access Facebook? (Image courtesy http://www.techxav.com)

Article published today in Wired on how Facebook would work in China, as the social media site is rumoured to be in negotiations with the Chinese search engine Baidu.

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A new paywall doesn’t come for free

Interesting comment by Peter Preston on paywalls in The Observer online today: A new paywall doesn’t come for free

The New York Times is apparently spending $13m on advertising its new paywall.

Mashable.com published this last month on NYT’s readership pre and post-paywall. Here are the stats:


I thought this was a good point raised by Mashable:

“So here’s the big question: Is NYT‘s paywall a success or a failure? When it comes to this big-picture question, we still don’t have enough information to make a conclusion. The paywall simply hasn’t been around long enough and we don’t have the financial data to see whether the paywall has made up for the loss in advertising revenue. What do you think of the paywall? Is it the future of online news or will sites that use a paywall destined for a slow death?”

Information is a strange commodity – we expect it for free and yet it doesn’t come about for nothing. In my view, the paywall system is something we can’t yet analyse. The results won’t appear overnight. Or maybe even the next few years. I subscribe to The Economist as I find it’s easier for a copy to be delivered to my door than for me to remember to have to go and buy one every week. It’s cheaper too and I have access to their archives. Ease and convenience (and more/better information) is a strong point for paywalls for some of the world’s biggest news publications. I do think they’re strongly dependent on our use of technology and this is perhaps why we can’t quite garner their results. As devices such as the iPad become the norm, then maybe we’ll see that paywalls aren’t as doomed as some would suggest.

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Mobile devices for reporting

Journalists shouldn't scoff at using recording devices on mobile phones to get that all important interview. (Image courtesy of http://www.niemanlab.org)

A brilliant article on using mobile devices for recording published on the Neiman Journalism Lab website: Your handiest reporting tool may be the smartphone in your pocket. Andrew Phelps writes that journalists should not forget the simple technology we have at our disposal:

Public radio people can be pretty snobby about audio quality — I can say that, having worked in public radio for five years — but, given the alternatives proliferating in the market, it’s getting harder to justify the expense and bulk of pro kits for field work. Judge the audio quality of Toness’ piece for yourself. And remember, as you close your eyes and turn up the volume in your noise-canceling headphones, that most listeners hear radio stories over a cheap FM set while making breakfast, getting the kids dressed, or driving to work. News producers may be snobby about sound quality, but consumers, generally, are anything but.

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Twitter introduces text ads

Digital Inspiration writes:

“Twitter is experimenting with sponsored text-ads on their website that show-up just after the “trends” section.”

Not massive news but interesting to see how Twitter is developing. Also reminds me that I really should start using my twitter account.

Image courtesy of digitalinsider.com

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Sony enters the tablet war

Image courtesy wired.com

From wired.com:

“Sony has shown off a pair of tablets that will launch later this year. The S1 is little more than yet another Honeycomb tablet in a Sony-designed box, with a 9.4-inch widescreen display and a wedge-shaped case.

Way more interesting is the S2, a clamshell tablet with two 5.5-inch screens. Each section has a rounded back, making it look like a squashed burrito when closed. When open, you can use it as a tablet with a black stripe down the middle, or each screen can display different content, similar to the dual-screen Nintendo DS consoles.”

You can read more here.

Hmm…I’ve been toying with the idea of getting an iPad for a while but with new designs from other retailers emerging all the time, I think I may wait a little while before making my decision!

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E-book Piracy

“Books are the last bastion of analogue”, said Jeff Bezos, in an interview with Newsweek in November 2007.  “Music and video have been digital for a long time,” he continued, “short-form reading has been digitized, beginning with the early Web. But long-form reading really hasn’t.”

(Image Courtesy Newsweek November 2007)

Later that week, Bezos, the CEO of Internet commerce giant Amazon.com, released the Amazon Kindle, a device that was to transform the way we can access, read and store e-books. Since then, its success has brought about rival devices – such as the Sony Reader – and now hundreds of thousands of books are available for download straight to your reader.

The question now posed, it seems, is how piracy will affect e-books, authors and – wider still – the publishing community.

Last week I read this article in The Metro  “Ebook piracy is ‘colossal threat’, in which ‘award-winning crime writer David Hewson’ remarked that the illegal downloading and piracy of e-books would bring about the end of the world as we know it. Oh okay. I lie. He didn’t say that. Something more along the lines that books would now be affected like the music industry has been. My general interest was one of ‘meh’ before I turned the page, only to be distracted by my bus driver announcing that the destination of my bus had changed, which meant that we all had to get off the bus and wait on the side of the road for the next one to come along, my copy of The Metro long forgotten as was the article about e-book piracy mayhem…

….until today, when I read this  piece on Guardian.co.uk about The Metro‘s article. The Observer journalist Russell Davies comments that he hopes e-book piracy fears do not prompt ‘the draconian crack-down of the 1990s’.

“The book business likes to invoke those days too and repeatedly assures us it is not going to make the mistakes the music industry made. Unfortunately, the conclusions it seems to have drawn are that the recorded music business wasn’t draconian and heavy-handed enough, that it didn’t issue enough take-down notices and didn’t sue enough children and sweet old ladies. They seem not to have realised that the only way to compete with pirates is to offer a better product and better service; a better combination of price, convenience and availability.(guardian.co.uk 24 April 2011)

Which? also featured a piece on Hewson’s comments. Sarah Kidner writes that this ‘colossal’ threat is far from reality and in fact presents a ‘colossal opportunity’. The Publishers Association, where authors can report copyright infringement, received 831 notifications of infringement in the past week yet ebooks are now outselling their paperback equivalents, as reported by The Association of American Publishers. That’s great news!

Both Davies and Kidner remark that publishers should take this as a sign that e-books must remain competitively priced – and priced LOWER than the version available in bookshops. People want the best value – they’re not going to pay more for an e-book if it’s considerably cheaper to walk into WH Smith and pick it up off the shelf. As an avid reader of books, and someone who’s toyed with the idea of buying a kindle, I’m interested to see how this possible issue develops. Let’s hope it’s not another case of Napster.

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Apps for Photographers

This makes me want to get an iPhone. Proof that journalists, and now photographers, don’t necessarily need cumbersome, heavy and expensive equipment to produce good quality work!

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The success of The Guardian: Emily Bell gives talk at Columbia University

Former Guardian News and Media Director Emily Bell, gave a talk at Columbia’s School of Journalism, where she heads the Tow Centre for Digital Journalism at Columbia. She discussed reasons for the publication’s success – and failures – and how online had been embraced to make it one of the most visited news sites on the web. Article can be found here.

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