Archive for July, 2011

Taking the Plunge

Posted on July 12, 2011. Filed under: Uncategorized |

I have a history of being a late bloomer when it comes to new technologies and media. For years, I insisted I was too old for Facebook. Now, hardly a day goes by when I don’t check my Wall at least once, appreciating how it keeps me connected with friends.

When my husband first purchased an IPhone, I insisted that a phone was just for talking with people. My resolve quickly faltered though, when I discovered how handy it was to check email, look up directions, and search for restaurants on the go.

So, when the recent announcement was made introducing Google+, I decided it was time for me to go from reluctant adopter to early adopter. To stop focusing on why something was not valuable or necessary, and to open up to the possibilities of how it might be fun or interesting.

Google plus

Like blogger Becky Robinson, I worry about fitting another social network into my life. Is there room for Facebook and Google+? Does it even make sense to be active in both? Am I setting myself up for early adopter grief if I invest time and energy into creating my Google+ Circles only to have the network fail?

I have lots of questions and very few answers. But, I’m determined to enjoy the ride, no matter how long it lasts. As one of my handful of Google+ connections pointed out, we early adopters will be able to look back years from now and say, “remember when…”

In this final post for my blog project, I would like to offer sincere gratitude to all who have supported me by reading and commenting each week.


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A Newsie’s Journey from the Obits to the Cutting Edge

Posted on July 10, 2011. Filed under: Uncategorized |

A hearty cyber-welcome to guest blogger Susan Manning! As a 15-year veteran of the news industry, Susan has had a front row seat for the major changes brought about by emerging media. Read on for her insider’s perspective—and leave a comment for her!

Susan ManningI’ve been a newsie for as long as I can remember. Nary a week went by in my house without the Boston Globe daily, the Sudbury Town Crier on Thursdays and the nightly 6 and 11 p.m. newscasts. News keeps my blood flowing.

Though I had many internships, I started in the field professionally the year I graduated college and worked my way up the ladder to management—a traditional journalist’s journey. I still remember the day I told my mother I landed a job at the local daily. She was thrilled, that is, until I told her I’d be writing obits and that it would be a second job. I assured her it would lead to bigger and better things. And it did. Just being part of the newsroom fabric made me smile and I worked harder to ensure promotion.

But aspiring journalists today will experience a different journey than I did.

Today’s journalism is a dynamic field—ever-changing and cutting edge. Today we have to win over our readers in 10 seconds—if they even choose to give us a chance. When I was last an editor of a local print newspaper, my penetration rate was 82 percent. The penetration rate of that same paper now, 4 years later, is down to 47 percent. Why?

Fewer people read papers. And those who do, skim. They don’t want a 25-inch story on Town Meeting. They want you to tell them 5 things they missed at that meeting. Readers are working more hours now and many who used to have a stay-at-home mom can’t afford that anymore. With less free time, they want more information digested for them. And with the advent of social media and the Internet, they are able to find the news the need in the form they need it.

But fear not—our job as journalists is not to retire the printing press and go home. It is to ride this wave of new and social media as it emerges and changes to fit the needs of its users. My company, Patch, is a hyperlocal (read: We get as granular as the news in your individual neighborhoods) news and community website. We have no printed product. In fact, even our offices are virtual. We stand on our own, with our own platform and we do very well. Still, much of our traffic and engagement comes from and happens in other arenas: twitter, Facebook, Huffington Post. And we are OK with that.

Patch logo

Our goal—my goal—is to engage communities and get them to be as excited about news as I am and to have informed residents who can participate in an educated way in their own towns. If I have to be dynamic and willing to change my methods on a dime to accomplish this, so be it. When the engagement falters, I will worry. But until then, I—and Patch—will use social media to its fullest and will be excited when the next avenue for news dissemination emerges.

-Susan Manning

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Are you App-Happy?

Posted on July 6, 2011. Filed under: Uncategorized |

I was surprised to discover recently that apps rank pretty low on the priority lists of smartphone users, with only 29% claiming to make use of them. How is it that such a large segment of the population has not yet discovered the magical convenience of apps?

When my husband and I took a month long, West coast, road-trip-of-a-lifetime last year, I downloaded five apps just for the journey:

  • Yelp and TripAdvisor to check out restaurant and hotel reviews
  • Chipotle, because it’s a safe, healthy and tasty option while on the road
  • NPR to listen to recent news and locate local stations that carried its programming
  • And a hotel app that I have since deleted, but proved quite handy when searching for cheap lodging
TripAdvisor App

While these applications are all very practical, games are actually the most popular type of app. I currently have three games on my IPhone, all of which are for my nieces and nephews to play with when they get restless during family functions. But, as much as they they love to play BubblePopper and Piano Pals on Auntie Joyce’s IPhone, Uncle Paul wins out in popularity with his IFart application. This high tech version of the classic whoopee cushion is quite lucrative. At a price of just $0.99 per download, the IFart maker raked in $80,000 during the app’s first two weeks on the market alone.

IFart appWhile the overall percentage of app users is rather low, they make up for their small numbers by downloading lots of apps. According to Pew Internet, on average, these users have 18 apps on their phones at any given time. Paul and I are overachievers with 45 and 32 respectively.

What about you? How many apps do you have on your phone? And do you go for the entertainment value of games or the practicality of information-based apps?

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