Nexus and disruption

A Filipino company launched in Cebu last week two dual-SIM phones with one that can, arguably, be called a smartphone, in a non-snobbish sense that it is a touchscreen phone that can connect to the Internet.

Starmobile’s FeatureSmart T601i costs just P3,290. Starmobile president Michael Chen said that although their phones are priced low, these have “top of the line craftsmanship.”

The company is also scheduled to launch an Android tablet in four weeks with a target price of P5,999. The tablet will come with Android Ice Cream Sandwich, said Starmobile president Michael Chen. I tried the device during the launch and found it very responsive.

Chen said that although it is a consumer product, their tablet can be used as an educational tool and deployed in schools. Android, after all, has a lot of educational apps and can display e-books.

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This column is still written by a human

THE Agence France Presse (AFP) published an interesting article last week about the use of algorithms to write news articles.

The AFP article, which was written by a human, discussed how a group of new companies use algorithms or mathematical procedures run on computers to turn large volumes of numeric data into articles.

A pioneer in the industry is Narrative Science, which was spun off from a joint research project at the Northwestern University Schools of Engineering and Journalism. The company said its first “automatically generated story” was on a Northwestern Wildcats baseball game.

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FACEBOOK COMMENT FOR PRINT. You can comment on my article on the printed edition of Sun.Star Cebu using your phone, a QR code scanner and your Facebook profile.

Social media layer on ‘real life’

Last Saturday, several groups all over the world celebrated Social Media Day. In Cebu, members of the Cebu Bloggers Society Inc. gathered in Mactan Isla Resort and Spa for a seminar on various topics related to social media.

I talked about good writing as foundation of an effective social media campaign.

Despite advances in online video and availability of new, interactive story-telling tools, the Internet is still primarily a textual medium. If there’s one thing we should invest on to improve our social media skills, it should be to sharpen our writing.

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NOT JUST DATA PIPE. PLDT chairman Manuel V. Pangilinan speaks to shareholders during the company's annual stockholders' meeting. Pangilinan said PLDT must "move firmly into social media, social networking and Internet spaces before they move into ours and eat our lunch." (PHOTO BY MAX LIMPAG)

Next frontier lies in media space: MVP

PLDT will not just be an Internet pipe for data, chairman Manuel V. Pangilinan told shareholders during a meeting Thursday afternoon in Dusit Thani hotel in Makati City.

The company needs to “move firmly into social media, social networking and Internet spaces before they move into ours and eat our lunch,” Pangilinan told the company’s shareholders and officials.

“Innovation and competition will not only come from telcos like ourselves but also from ‘over the top’ players belonging to the Internet space like Facebook, Google, Apple and YouTube, which actually compete with us,” he said.

He later told reporters who interviewed him at the venue, “margins are getting depressed by staying purely as a distribution company, as an infrastructure company… We have to be something more than that.”

“And really the next frontier lies in the media space — both in the legacy and in the new media space. And how you will blend the telco, utility operations with the creative part of social media is a big challenge. Nobody has been successful yet,” he said.

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Disintermediation

TO do well online, close your website department.

The website department as we know it today is approaching obsolescence, even anachronism.

It’s like a typists’ pool-–convenient but unessential, an extra layer of fat that is fatal in today’s time of lean startups and agile companies.

Today, the Internet should be central to everything that you do. It should be the base on which you add layers for your specific business processes – not the other way around. Having one department do online tasks while the other sections stay offline is as old-fashioned as the typists’ pool.

In today’s business environment, the Internet should be a core component. Everyone in the company should be mindful of and take part in the Internet strategy, which must permeate every department.

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Making money in new media

HOW long do you support a losing website? Two years? Three? Five?

Failing is okay so long as you fail fast, Inquirer director for mobile JV Rufino said in a forum last Monday held as part of this year’s Press Freedom Week celebration.

Speed is even more crucial on the Internet, where one year zips by in just six months. Running a losing website for five years is akin to running a brick-and-mortar business for 10 years.

Fail fast, fail often and learn from these failures to build better products, Rufino said in the forum organized by Cebu Daily News, “Where is Journalism in the Digital World?”

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Writing, reading and mobile devices

GOOD Web writing is non-linear. It takes advantage of the key technology behind the Internet—the hyperlink—to provide context, additional information and even marginalia.

It is “writing for selfish readers,” as usability expert Jakob Nielsen puts it.

Web readers have so many sites and services competing for their attention they barely have time to read your article.

TABLET READING. The experience of reading on the tablet is closer to print.

TABLET READING. The experience of reading on the tablet is closer to print. CLICK ON IMAGE TO ENLARGE.

Nielsen says that in the linear writing of print and TV, readers and viewers expect the author “to construct their experience for them.” In the non-linear character of hypertext-driven writing, users “construct their own experience by piecing together content from multiple sources.”

If another fire were to break out in Cebu, an article written in a non-linear, hypertext manner would just mention that it would be the 10th blaze in recent days, with that phrase hyperlinked to archives of previous stories of the fires. Writing the article that way presents the reader with the option of clicking the link for more background information on the fires or ignoring it if the reader already knows about the previous incidents.

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News writing: 5Ws, GPS

When fire broke out in Barangay Tejero late Saturday afternoon, I was dragged to the scene by my wife, who wanted to cover it for her news blog and as trial for the system of Yahoo! Philippines’ foray into local news.

I can no longer recall the last time I covered a fire for news. But it was definitely before mobile Internet became as ubiquitous as it is today. I think it was also before I had a wife who would drag me to a fire scene.

Amid the panic of people trying to save what they could as they accounted for family members and friends, we posted updates through our phones, took photos and videos.

Saturday’s experience taught me a lot about the speed by which the technological juggernaut changes the way we do things, especially in reporting for a quickly-evolving online media landscape.

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Poynter lists tips on how to build an engaged audience

Poynter associate editor Mallary Jean Tenore lists tips for online journalists to build an engaged audience online in her post “5 small steps journalists can take to build a bigger, more engaged audience.

The post provides great pieces of advice on getting the word out on your article like letting your news sources and people who may have a stake in your article know about the piece through the social networks. To be effective, Tenore suggests that you include their Twitter and Facebook names in the update so that they can be notified.

She also suggests linking to the work of other news sites and informing them about it.

Tenore also suggests engaging with others covering your beat and tweeting follow-ups “that help advance the discussion about your story.”

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Curated Kindle reading

Delivereads is an interesting service for the Kindle—it sends out articles curated by “Web-addicted insider, investor and entrepreneur” Dave Pell.

Pell said he thought about the service after he got a Kindle.

DELIVEREADS provides curated content to your Kindle for free. CLICK ON IMAGE TO ENLARGE

“My friends got together and bought me a Kindle because they worried I was spending too much time on the web and not enough time reading books. And it worked. I read several books on my Kindle. Then I realized that I can easily send longer articles from the web to my Kindle — you know, those pieces that you either have to print out or that you just stop reading. Now I’m spending even more time on the web, searching for great articles to send to my Kindle,” he said.

Signing up with Delivereads is easy. Just add [email protected] to your Kindle Approved E-mail List and then enter your Kindle address in the Delivereads site.

His selection this week includes a GQ story on how one of hockey’s toughest characters became a gay advocate, an Atlantic piece on a 25-year-old murder mystery, the Washington Monthly profile of Edward Tufte and Joel Stein’s article in Time magazine on Zach Galifianakis.
I just signed up for the service and received my first dispatch.

Curated reading apps are really helpful to improve the signal to noise ratio in today’s information age of push-button publishing and social networking.

I hope Delivereads can, in the future, provide categorized curated articles instead of just sending a single dispatch.