Tag Archives: technology developers

Innovations in Journalism: Moblog – instant publishing on-the-fly

In our Innovations in Journalism series, Journalism.co.uk asks website and technology developers to pitch their projects to us. This time it’s Moblog and its mobile toolkit for blog publishing.

1) Who are you and what’s it all about?
moblog:tech Ltd operates a community website, Moblog and a technology licensing firm.

Our team has been offering mobile blogging services since 2003, both to consumers wishing to blog from their phones; and to brands and businesses, who want to use mobile blogging as part of their marketing and promotional mix.

The service is a web and mobile service, so anything you post online is immediately accessible on your mobile as well.

Moblog as a platform is capable of instant publishing of content from in the field via voice (voice is converted to text and posted along with the original audio), MMS, SMS, email and via the web and mobile browser. This makes the service a perfect place to publish multimedia when it is time sensitive. This can happen direct to the picture desk behind a firewall or via RSS, it can be public and collaborative by allowing the public to post to your stream.

It is an exceedingly flexible system designed to bring web and mobile experiences together so that it no longer matters where you are publishing, reading or accessing the service.

The platform can be a complete install, such as Channel 4’s Big Art Mob (this is a build using our Participation Toolkit that we did for Channel 4); or can exist within Moblog itself as part of the network of moblogs. It can also be a standalone site in it’s own right such as the ‘Promotional Moblog’ for Dispatches.

2) Why would this be useful to a journalist?
Journalists are facing perhaps the greatest upset to the model and means of reporting that has occurred since the advent of the printed page. New audiences and new ways of reporting the news are fast becoming the norm.

Blogging is a big part of this transformation. With mobile camera phones and mobile web becoming the norm, the ability to generate images and video from mobile devices, along with audio and text, and share in a well structured manner to web and mobile sites whilst in the field is another tool now available – not only to journalists, but also to the public.

We have seen some game-changing shifts happen in how content is created, shared and disseminated, and the role of the public in adding to newsgathering and creation.

A critical example of this was the first image that emerged from within the tube tragedy on 7/7/2005, captured by Adam Stacey, which was first published on Moblog. This image became one of the seminal images associated with the event. More than this, it helped to define the emerging trend of so called ‘Citizen Journalism’.


3) Is this it, or is there more to come?

The platform is feature rich and it’s difficult to describe the possibilities (visit this link for a listing of Moblog’s features).

It’s worth mentioning that all posts can be geolocated on an integrated map on each moblog and that all moblogs are highly customisable, as reflected in the Dispatches program example above.

The platform is constantly evolving and we have a development pipeline that includes an API and other features that will be useful to individuals and clients.

4) Why are you doing this?

We started the site for fun back in 2003, with a shared passion for all things mobile, and for bridging web and mobile. We remain focused on enabling individuals, groups and clients to engage audiences on web and mobile with instantaneous, wonderful and useful content generated from their mobile phones.

5) What does it cost to use it?
It’s free to use non-commercially at Moblog, and we operate a ‘freemium model’ so that people can subscribe at Moblog for more features. Commercially, our licenses are yearly and range from £3,000 for mobile blogging solutions such as our Promotional Moblog.

6) How will you make it pay?
Our client base at this time comes predominantly from the entertainment and third sector. We intend to expand our client base for the Participation Toolkit and Promotional Moblogs. Licensing fees from these mobile blogging platforms, coupled with advertising and subscriber revenues, is how we generate revenue.

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.

Google’s App Engine

Google has launched App Engine – a service allowing web developers to test out their applications on Google’s infrastructure.

By using Google technology developers will be able to see how their applications fare ‘under heavy load and with large amounts of data’, says a post on the new blog for the service.

“The goal is to make it easy to get started with a new web app, and then make it easy to scale when that app reaches the point where it’s receiving significant traffic and has millions of users,” writes Paul McDonald, product manager.

There are certain restrictions on the applications, namely: maximum of 500MB of storage, 200M megacycles of CPU per day and 10GB bandwidth per day. The tool will remain free when used within these parameters and, as it’s developed, users will be able to purchase extra resources.

Donald says most applications are expected to be able to serve approximately 5 million pageviews per month.

The App Engine is at the ‘preview’ stage – meaning only the first 10,000 subscribers can play with it for now. The list is already full:

Google App subscription page

According to Darren Waters on the BBC’s dot.life blog there were no more places within 24 hours. Waters points to the launch as a signal of where Google is headed as a company:

“There’s no doubt that hosted services, from web applications to programs we associate mainly with desktop computing, are the future… more interesting will be what Google says it will be able to do with the applications and resultant data that it will host on our behalf, on the behalf of developers and companies.

“Google could help drive standards not just for the web as we understand it today, but for each and every device that is being connected to the net now and in the coming years…”

TechCrunch has already used the service to build an application and says it took four hours from sign-up to deployment – its speed and simplicity being the main attraction to developers. However, questions will need to be asked about the scaling process, writes Henry Work.

While making it quick and easy is undoubtedly a positive for developers, Thomas Claburn at InformationWeek urges caution:

“[D]evelopers looking to travel the path of least resistance should pay close attention to the risks of depending on someone else and to the limitations imposed by terms-of-service contracts. We’re talking about outsourcing your infrastructure, after all.”

Is this Google offering developers a helping hand or offering to buy them up?

Innovations in Journalism – EditGrid

Each week we give technology developers the opportunity to tell us journalists why we should sit up and pay attention to the sites and devices they are working on. This week it’s data as journalism with online spreadsheets from EditGrid.

image of editgrid logo

1) Who are you and what’s it all about?
Hello, I’m David Lee, from EditGrid.

EditGrid is an online spreadsheet service that does for numbers what blogs and wikis do for text.

2) Why would this be useful to a journalist?
It can be useful for journalist in multiple ways: managing simple lists and mini-databases so that the data can be shared, collaborated and accessed anywhere (including iPhone and Facebook) and publishing of tables and charts.

The Daily Kos has used us to publish quick and easy charts of US primary election results.

3) Is this it, or is there more to come?
We keep enhancing the sharing and publishing capabilities to make EditGrid more powerful.

In the future it will be the platform to access live data (financial and much more). Users already created live financial spreadsheets attracting tens of thousands of users and million of views.

4) Why are you doing this?
Spreadsheet is a technology area in which the fundamentals haven’t been changed for more than 20 years.

Now we can make online spreadsheet running in a web browser which multiple people can edit at the same time with changes synchronising in real-time.

We see much potential in it and believe it will revolutionise the ways people use spreadsheets.

5) What does it cost to use it?
Free of charge for personal users, US$5 per user for organisations.

6) How will you make it pay?
We offer most of the features for free but we charge organisations $5/user/month and provide more administration and security features.

Currently, we’re more interested in growing our base to hundreds-of-thousands of users, we may charge for future value-added features and/or premium data access but what our users can enjoy for free now will remain free forever. 🙂

Innovations in Journalism – Pownce.com

Each week we give technology developers the opportunity to tell us journalists why we should sit up and pay attention to the sites and devices they are are working on. This week it’s file sharing site Pownce.

pownce.jpg

 1) Who are you and what’s it all about?
Hi, I’m Leah Culver, co-founder of Pownce.

Pownce is a social messaging website where members can send messages, files, links, and events to their friends.

2) Why would this be useful to a journalist?
A journalist could use Pownce to distribute a link to a story and get feedback. It’s a great way to gather information and share ideas.

3) Is this it, or is there more to come?
There are plenty more features on the way including a more complete API and a new way to view links and files.

4) Why are you doing this?
We started Pownce as a better way to share stuff on the web. We were very frustrated with the current methods for sharing files and decided that we could do better.

5) What does it cost to use it?
It is free to use, but if you’d like to share very large files you can purchase a pro account for $20 a year.

6) How will you make it pay?
Right now we make money by selling advertising and pro accounts.

Innovations in Journalism – Orato.com

Each week we give technology developers the opportunity to tell us journalists why we should sit up and pay attention to the sites and devices they are are working on. This week it’s citizen journalism site Orato.

Image of Orato website

1) Who are you and what’s it all about?

I’m Paul Sullivan, editor-in-chief of Orato.

Orato is a citizen journalism site that features stories from 3525 (last count) citizen correspondents from around the world.

Anyone can post text, audio, video story or photo slide show and comment on the site after registering.

We encourage first-person accounts, partly for practical reasons – people are comfortable speaking in their own voice about what they encounter, what’s going on in their lives, and what they think and feel – but also because it communicates on a more intimate level.

2) Why would this be useful to a journalist?

Orato is useful to journalists as a source of fascinating stories that don’t stem from the usual sources or locales.

On the home page, as I write, there’s a piece by a guy who kills baby seals for a living on the ice of Newfoundland, who is unapologetically carrying on a family tradition; there’s a story from the jackman (he jacks up the wheels) for the Nascar Red Bull team…he watches the cars go by at 198 miles an hours, then has to be ready in a split second to change the tires on his driver’s car; there’s a story about a family in Turkey who walks on all fours – their standard means of locomotion, a piece from a guy who spent more than a decade high up in Scientology’s secret army, and a piece from an astronaut on what it’s like to walk in space.

Some of these pieces we’ve solicited; others have come unbidden.

Orato is a treasure chest for journos looking for stories. It is also a place where journalists can and do post pieces that are viewed as too controversial or unpublishable at their own workplace.

3) Is this it, or is there more to come?

We’re already formulating Orato 3.0 (2.0 introduced video and interactive features such as the activity tracker).

In 3.0 we’re going to focus even more on the social media dimensions of the site…allow correspondents to instant message each other, allow them to customize their own MyOrato home page to display the subjects they’re interested in, etc.

We’re constantly thinking about new ways to expand citizen journalism – live video, versions in other languages, syndication of our best pieces using widgets, etc.

4) Why are you doing this?

For these reasons:

  • Because it’s important. This site has become a platform for people who otherwise may have no public voice – the sex trade workers who covered the serial killer trial in Vancouver, the Scientology refugees who have come to the site to bear witness against an oppressive cult, people who have been abused by authority and people who just love to tell stories and are looking for a safe, reputable and credible place to do it. It’s a democratic phenomenon, one we’re proud to be a part of.
  • Because people want it: now that the bandwidth and interactive technology exist, people are eager to participate and we give them at least one outlet.
  • Because it’s exciting. It’s the marketplace for a magnificent variety of voices and experiences; it’s the court of public opinion.
  • The wonder of it all: Strange and exotic stories appear out of nowhere. One day, the former chief executioner for Kenya decides to tell his story.
  • It’s great fun.

5) What does it cost to use it?

Nothing. It’s all free.

6) How will you make it pay?

We’re in the process of negotiating with online ad agencies to feature ads on the site. As traffic increases so will our CPM rate and our revenue. We have a number of other ideas in the development phase, but they’re not quite ready for prime time.