Tag Archives: cellular telephone

Innovations in Journalism: vtap – driving the ‘video-anywhere revolution’

In our Innovations in Journalism series, Journalism.co.uk asks website and technology developers to pitch their projects to us. This time it’s Veveo with vtap, its personalised video service for mobiles.

1) Who are you and what’s it all about?
We’re Veveo – founded in 2004 by a team of executives with a history in multimedia, networking and mobile technologies.

Veveo’s mission is to be a driving force behind the ‘video-anywhere revolution’. The company’s flagship product, vtap is the first significant proof of concept. It offers consumers an easy way to browse, discover, keep and share videos from any source on any imaginable topic on the mobile device(s) of their choosing.

vtap indexes videos from all over the internet, including user-generated content (YouTube, DailyMotion) and professional sources (BBC, CNN), as well as blogs and corporate websites.

Basically, anywhere that video appears on the internet vtap indexes it and it is searchable for users.

To set up a personalised feed, users have to register (which is a simple process requiring only an email address and password).

They then enter search terms, which will bring up results or topics. These ‘topics’ can then be added to a feed, which allows users to log in and view relevant content at any time. This can also be viewed on their mobile phone.

By each video there is a ‘share’ button which enables users to send the video to another user, they just need to know the other person’s user name.

2) Why would this be useful to a journalist?
vtap is a great way to keep up-to-date with news and current events in an easy-to-view format. Because content is pushed to you on any device, you can keep up-to-date wherever you are.

3) Is this it, or is there more to come?
vtap is under constant development by our research and development team in Bangalore so there will be additional features in the near future.

We’re also working with mobile operators, mobile manufacturers, TV providers, consumer electronics manufacturers and content creators to deploy vtap solutions.

4) Why are you doing this?
Veveo believes that video content is the easiest way to get the content you want on a mobile, whether that’s news or entertainment.

To do this Veveo believes that users should be able to easily search videos from all over the web, and save and share what they find to create a personal TV channel.

This level of personalised service enables consumers to access the most relevant video content wherever they are, on any device.

5) What does it cost to use it?
vtap is a free service.

6) How will you make it pay?
vtap will be funded by an advertising model, details of which are yet to be announced.

WAN 2008: ‘Newspaper phone’ launch to build audience awareness of mobile services + barriers to development of newspaper’s mobile platforms

The launch of the world’s first ‘newspaper’ telephone by Swedish newspaper Dagens Nyheter (DN) was part of a plan to establish it as a recognised platform for news, DN’s head of mobile told an industry forum today.

DN launched the phone in partnership with Nokia and Nordic mobile service provider Telnor in December to give users instant access to the paper’s online content, Johan Brandt told the digital media roundtable at the World Newspaper Congress.

“We did this because we had three challenges [with mobile]. We had to get people to realise we had a pretty good mobile site. Many people just didn’t know that they could find news from the mobile internet, not enough people were aware of it as a channel,” he said.

“Secondly, one of the big barriers was that it’s difficult to browse the internet with a mobile, there are too many clicks… and third was ‘what does it cost to serve?’. Mobile providers charge users by megabyte. But what is a megabyte? Is it an article or a mobile TV episode. People don’t know what it’s going to cost them.”

In order to promote the newspaper portal, he added, it was important that the phone allowed users to assess DN’s mobile service in a single click and surf those web pages without incurring charges for downloading data.

The service, he added, is now attracting 50,000 unique users per month – up more than 40 per cent from last year – but there remained significant factors hampering the development of the mobile phone as an established platform to deliver news and on which newspapers can make significant revenue.

He identified a lack of standardised technology and measurement across the mobile market as the primary drawback to significant growth.

“There are no standards on the mobile market, it’s unnecessarily difficult and hard for the developers to create model services. I want to see growth from the walled garden model to a more open environment,” he said.

“Secondly, there is a lack of standards when it comes to advertising and measurement. There are different ad formats for different mobile sites. The market is fragmented and this makes advertisers frustrated and it also dwarves the mobile market’s potential in the short term.

“As a result of this there is a lack of strategic integration of marketing across mobile and other platforms for advertisers.

“There are too many pricing models for our advertisers to learn and in Sweden there are no valid or integrated tools for measurement, there are just no standards.”

In addition to this, he said, it was difficult for consumers to establish the cost of accessing data on phones and that it could prove to be a deterrent to use.

“In Sweden there are several hundred mobile phone subscriptions, with different prices for surfing. How can the user really know which subscription to get and what it costs to surf when it’s paid for by megabyte?

“I think there should be flat fees for time spent, that would make cost more predictable [for users].”

Wilbert Baan rethinks the news website with EN.nl

Wilbert Baan, interaction designer for de Volkskrant, is part of the team behind EN.nl – a bold project to redesign the news site. The site makes the most of its users in reshaping its design and includes a healthy dose of technological innovation alongside this wiki attitude.

Baan says the team built a version of the site for the iPhone within an hour and making the site work across different devices is key to how it’s been built.

After an initial introduction to the site through Paul Bradshaw’s blog, Journalism.co.uk asked Baan for more insight into the project:

1) What is the thinking behind the design EN.nl? How will its features improve the delivery of news to readers?

EN asks readers to participate. The design wants to stimulate participation. The horizontal timeline (below) shows the rhythm of news, the published articles over the last 24 hours.

Screenshot of EN.nl

When there is breaking news this often results in large amounts of small articles. This will make the bars of the hours that the news breaks relatively high compared to the rest of the day.

EN.nl is an evolving project. The design is an experiment and we had positive and negative feedback on the horizontal timeline. Positive is that it enables you to scan over a hundred articles relatively fast. The negative aspect is that it doesn’t show hierarchy. Everything is time-based.

On a NING network we ask everyone to share ideas and thoughts. We are open about the development process and made this a public experience.

2) How do you decide what content makes it onto the site?

EN is linked to a feed from a Dutch Press agency (ANP). This makes the website – for now – a closed system with a focus on news. ANP produces around a hundred articles a day and covers the whole spectrum of news reporting in the Netherlands.

There are already people asking to write articles. For example one reader is already bending the system and creating interesting articles. He takes an article and uses this as a container for ‘more important’ news.

There are some things you have to think about when opening the system for everyone to write articles. Relevancy and the truth become more important. We trust press agencies. How do you build online trust or what is important in developing a reputation system? And how do you decide what article is relevant and for whom?. Should we syndicate more news sources and should we syndicate with bloggers?

I think EN will develop to something where everyone can write and submit articles and I think it will be closely linked to a relevancy system. If you are a soccer fan your definition of soccer related news is different than that of a non-soccer fan.

3) On Paul Bradshaw’s blog you said: ‘The database is the most valuable asset of a news organisation’ – can you explain why you think this?

The web is fragmenting or – maybe even better – the web is everywhere: on your mobile phone, television, widgets, feeds, website and more. Making information portable is important for a news organization, because you probably can’t develop something for every niche platform or website.

Making collections and connecting data creates new value. If your information is easily accessible and contains valuable meta information then this gives additional tools to a news organization and enables them to move fast or enable their readers to create the tools they desire.

If your news (articles, photos, audio, video) is stored with good meta information and accessible it makes it easy to work with third parties in developing new value like location based services or news linked to your profile on another website. And even more important it will be cheaper to develop since you don’t have to update your archive with meta information.

I don’t know exactly what device or service will be popular in five years, but I guess the article as a container will still be popular.

Spinvox launches voice to social network application

Spinvox is launching in Europe an add-on to its voice-to-text technology that will allow voice-driven social networking from any mobile phone.

The new gizmo will allow users to file post to Facebook, Jaiku and Twitter, according to a post on the relaunched Spinvox website:

“Social Networks through SpinVox is launched today as a key element of the new, state-of-the-art SpinVox website. People can create an account on www.spinvox.com, where they can manage one, two or all three of their networking sites from one, personalised page. In addition, accounts can be set up so that one voice-powered contribution can be posted automatically to all three networking sites. SpinVox expects to extend this capability to other well-known social networking and micro-blogging sites in the coming months.”

Death of Chinese ‘citizen journalist’ sparks online outrage

A Chinese man, who used his mobile phone to film a confrontation between the authorities and protesting villagers in the country’s central Hubei province, was beaten to death by city officials, according to a report by CNN on Friday.

The death of Wei Wenhua, a 41-year-old construction company executive, has been widely condemned across online forums and news sites in China, the article states.

“Wei is the first ‘citizen journalist’ to die in China because of what he was trying to film,” a statement from press freedom campaign group Reporters Without Borders said.

“He was beaten to death for doing something which is becoming more and more common and which was a way to expose law-enforcement officers who keep on overstepping their limits.”

News as niche: video traffic updates for mobiles

Local television broadcaster KHCW-TV channel 39 in Houston, Texas, has come up with an innovative idea for delivering traffic reports. The free service for mobile phones allows users to view images and video of traffic hotspots supplied by live traffic cameras along their route. The images provided by the KHCW Traffic Jam Cell Cams are near real-time, a press release for the service claims, and can be programmed into keys on your mobile phone for quick access.

The ideas behind this service are very much in keeping with my earlier blog post on experiments with niche news delivery, as the channel’s vice president and general manager Roger Bare describes: “This is something that isn’t dependent on having a morning news show to offer traffic to commuters. This service gives people real-time traffic information anytime, anywhere”


Amazon Kindle – would you want to pull that out of your bag?

The simple answer is no. It looks like a piece of medical equipment. I don’t want to be sitting on the bus with everyone thinking I’m some kind of techy hypochondriac constantly monitoring my vital signs.

Apart from its general ugliness, I’m a little at odds with this type of technology. I can see the logic of an electronic reader for news (but why would you not want to use your mobile phone to get info on the hoof?) but for books? Why?

Books are simple technology that work perfectly. I doubt I’d want to take this speak and spell lookalike to the beach and I certainly wouldn’t use it to get my commuting news. An iPod moment for news, it is not.

Against all of which I’m completely staggered that this thing is selling like hot cakes. Fortunately for my schadenfreude gene the reviews aren’t too good. Next device please.


Time to outsource the journalists?

We received a friendly email at Journalism.co.uk towers pitching the services of WebEdit – ‘a web-based service provider for all journalism related activities’ (quite a hefty claim in itself).

When you’ve got friends like WebEdit, who needs full-time staff?

Headed by Manjula Ramakrishnan – ‘an editor and journalist with over 20-years of experience with more than 1000 published articles’ and also a dramatist according to her profile – they’ll write your content, edit it, translate it, even transcribe interviews for you.

Banks, building societies, mobile phone operators – have been outsourcing operations for a while now. Perhaps its just a sign of the times that journalism could go down the same route….