Archive for November, 2010

I don’iphone screent normally write about mobile apps – perhaps I should – but I thought Camscanner might be useful for on-the-go journalists.

You use it to scan images, receipts, documents, and then annotate and tag them and turn them into PDFs to upload to the cloud.

It’s available for iPhone and Android devices in both free and paid for versions and you can see a review here


The more I read about Rupert Murdoch’s pet project “The Daily” the more intrigued I become.

With all the properties at his disposal the American media magnate has rich potential for his proposed digital “newspaper” for the iPad.

But the nomenclature is troubling: A “newspaper”? On a digital device?

Is that just shorthand to reference something new against something familiar, or is leaning towards replication of the printed product in electronic form?

If it really is the latter it’s akin to putting coaching lamps on a horseless carriage – not very illuminating and not much use – but that’s the way it looks.

According to the New York Times’ David Carr, “The Daily” will be produced in the evening and “printed” for the next morning.

“There will be updates — the number of which is still under discussion — but not at the velocity or with the urgency of a news website.”

Oh dear, oh dear. Has he not understood Eric Schmidt’s concept of “nowness” – a world of real-time data, blended with location and context.

And iPad only? Surely not, not when a wider, burgeoning tablet market beckons?

There’s also the question of content, the vast majority of which is supposed to be original.

The Guardian’s Edward Helmore in New York says the paper is intended to combine “a tabloid sensibility with a broadsheet intelligence”.

With only 100 journalists assigned to the project at News Corp’s Manhattan offices that’s a big ask

Salon cofounder and commentator Scott Rosenberg thinks 100 staff is plenty – provided they’re the right people and the aim is not to be a matter-of-record publication.

How might that look? Well, with video from Fox Sport and Sky, travel and lifestyle material from The Times and Sunday Times, scandal and sleaze from the New York Post and The Sun and even tech and gadgetry from the WSJ there’s plenty of light and shade to choose from.

Rosenberg argues that the biggest weakness with the proposition is the narrowness of its scope. Like a paywalled website it won’t be linkable or shareable and therefore won’t be part of the conversation around news.

For that reason he reckons the Murdoch tablet will be Dead on Arrival.

For all the unanswered questions – and we won’t know the answers until its launch early in the New Year – the commitment to try something new, that makes use of rich media, incorporates original content and sells for 99 cents a week, has to be applauded, flawed though it may be


Can a barcode tell a story? It can if it’s powered by Stickybits to add digital information to real-world objects.

Earlier this week I received a postcard from colleague Jim Haryott containing nothing in the message area other than a barcode.

Using a reader – available for Android and iPhones – I was able to read a message and see a piece of video which had been attached.

Interacting with information in the landscape is at an early stage and the Internet of Things is still a long way off but Stickybits shows a glimmer of what’s coming.

For now it’s a bridge between analogue and digital.  In future, interaction with objects via a mobile device will become an everyday feature.

The mobile money space is starting to warm up, with both Apple and Google reportedly in talks with payments start-up Boku.

As Techcrunch points out, Apple already has 160m credit card accounts associated with iTunes. Making those transactions possible through a mobile, especially for those in developing countries who may not have a credit card, would be a logical next step and is one of Boku’s strengths.

Square is also gaining traction with its add-on software that turns a smartphone into a point of sale at the swipe of a debit/credit card.

Why is this important in the context of a news organisation? Because it’s one of the elements that will see smartphones become the dominant platform for consumption of future services.

Google is already a “mobile first” company. The rest of us will follow.

ONA10Two days, 1,300 journalists, hatfuls of awards (though, sadly, not for the BBC) and a blizzard of panels, workshops, keynotes and show-and-tells made for an exhausting, if stimulating annual conference in DC.

There were lots of highlights, but I’m going to pick out two and provide a few links to the rest.

The first came from a meeting with Vericorder CEO Gary Symons, who’s been leading the charge on MoJo, or mobile journalism.

The former CBC journalist has helped develop what the company calls “the world’s most advanced iPhone mobile media applications for recording, editing and sending files”.

Gary was CBC’s go-to guy for rapid coverage from the field of fires, explosions, crashes and disasters, and the expertise he acquired along the way has been poured into the software – it’s designed by a journalist for journalists.

He’s now pushing ahead with a major hyperlocal project in Canada and also touting a freelance journalism marketplace called

While the stringer network idea is nothing new, the clever bit is its back-end integration with newsroom systems.

The second conference highlight came from a session about shooting video with a DSLR and it was the work of independent film-maker Danfung Dennis which struck me.

His hour-long documentary about US involvement in Afghanistan, Battle for Hearts and Minds, showcased better than anything the power of great storytelling using a digital camera.

Embedded with Marines in hostile territory, his combat footage was shot on a Canon 5D and with only one lens (24-70, f 2.8) to avoid problems with dust in the body and to avoid missing the action.

For audio he used a Sennheiser shotgun mic (ME-66) and a G2 wireless system, though at that stage the technicalities became a bit like listening to fly fishermen talking Gold head wets and Cat’s Whiskers – a bit overwhelming.

Danfung also spoke about combining the aesthetics of still photography with cinematic storytelling and how that shaped his approach to the subject.

Fellow panellists Rii Schroer and Travis Fox had different kit solutions and less lofty approaches but showed equally impressive skills.

Rii presented a quirky feature piece, shot in a day, about the World Snail Racing Championships in Norfolk which she did for The Sunday Times, and Travis Fox showcased a Frontline package on highly decorated Haiti buses known as Tap Taps.

Now think about how this kind of work might plug into YouTube Leanback or Google TV, where individuals can become channels in their own right or their content can be reaggregated into underserved niches. The iPTV revolution is gathering pace.

Some other conference highlights:
Amy Webb’s top 10 tech trends
The top 10 lessons for hyperlocal journalism
Is Patch evil?