Monday, November 25, 2013

MediaWeek (V7, N47): Pearson CEO Fallon, Amazon Storage Underground, Rough Trade, Maigret, USB, EdX & MIT + More

John Fallon, CEO of Pearson plc was interviewed in London's Evening Standard last week.
The new buzzword is efficacy: not just selling study programmes to schools or parents who want their children to get ahead but setting targets and measuring how they improve performance and help learners advance their careers, from Pearson’s South African university students to the millions being taught English online.
“It changes what we invest in, what acquisitions we make, how we recruit people and how we incentivise them,” explains Fallon, 51, with close-cropped hair and northern vowels. Where once Pearson hired editors and publishers, the new boss wants more software engineers and data analysts. By 2018, the company aims to report on the performance of its education programmes as reliably as it reports on its finances.
“What makes this much more doable now than it has ever been before is the application of technology has the capacity to transform the productivity of education around the world,” he says.
Fallon’s fast-moving agenda, including wholesale changes to his executive team, has spooked some investors, though Pearson shares are still up 10% this year. The shake-up has been accompanied by weakness in the US college textbooks market, its largest and most profitable division. College enrollments fall when the economy recovers, but it is a setback even the group’s former communications director can’t spin his way out of.
Such is the size and ubiquity of Amazon that even in an article about the Tube adding 24hr service and laying off 700 workers, the company is mentioned as a savior of sorts.  The FT reported that London Underground may be considering a proposal for Amazon to rent space heretofore used by transport staff to place their Amazon Lockers.  No other papers picked up this story.
In a sign of the sweeping changes under way at the world’s oldest metro system, Transport for London also said it was talking to Amazon, the online retailer, about converting its ticket offices – which will be closed in favour of automatic ticket machines – to “drop-off” points for its goods.
London's Rough Trade record store is opening in New York (today) and interesting to note the original store had its genesis in a visit to City Lights bookstore in San Francisco. (Guardian)
Godfroy admits: "It's been a testing process." The shop has been four years in the making and would have been launched much earlier if not for various setbacks, including Hurricane Sandy. Rough Trade NYC, housed in a former film prop warehouse at 64 N 9th Street, is three times bigger than Rough Trade East. Opening on Monday, it contains a café, bar, exhibition space and 250-capacity live performance room as well as a vast array of records and books. (Disclaimer: the Guardian will be curating its own space within the store.)
"We've learned how what is ostensibly a store can be so much more," says Godfroy. "Visiting us is like visiting a cultural hub; it's not simply a place for purchasing. There's a relative lack of places [in New York] that allow people to hang out in an environment that celebrates the art, not the commodity."
The idea of the record shop as cultural hub echoes Rough Trade's modest beginnings in 1976. Two years earlier, founder Geoff Travis abandoned a career in teaching to hitchhike around America and became a regular customer at San Francisco's beatnik hangout City Lights. "I loved the fact it was an environment you could sit in," he says. "You could stay all day as long as you didn't spill coffee on the books. It was so different to anything in London, which was like a Wimpy bar: the lights were too bright and the seats were too uncomfortable."
The New Scientist looks at the history of the fictional French detective Maigret (NS):
Simenon had perhaps enjoyed more than a couple glasses of schnapps and bitters that morning, for his memory is certainly at fault. There was no sudden puff of smoke by the side of a Dutch canal. Rather, Maigret seems to have emerged from the mists of Simenon’s imagination slowly, pensively, ploddingly and over time.
In 1929, Simenon was already a successful author. He had started work at the age of 15 as a junior reporter on his local newspaper, the Gazette de Liège, and in his twenties he had published more than 100 of what he called his romans alimentaires, pulp romantic and adventure novels, which he wrote under various pseudonyms and at incredible speed. (At his peak of pulp productivity, in 1928, he produced no fewer than 44 novels, many of them written in a matter of days.)
In the 1930s, he started writing what he called his romans durs, his literary novels, the most distinguished of which – L’Assassin (1937), L’Homme qui regardait passer les trains (1938), La Veuve Couderc (1942) – were masterpieces of psychological intrigue. The Maigret books bridge the two extremes of his career but have eclipsed all else in reputation and renown. When he died in 1989, France Soir announced on its front page, “Le père de Maigret est mort”.
The Economist looks at a 1000 page history of The Beatles:
After publishing important books about Beatles concerts and recordings in the 1980s, Mr Lewisohn took on the full-time job of Beatles biographer in 2004. But he insists that "All These Years" is not authorised.
"It wasn't an issue," Mr Lewisohn. "The Beatles had done their book, the 'Anthology' [published in 2000], which I helped edit. They weren't going to authorise another."
For "Tune In" he has found old fans in Liverpool, examined ghostly footage and listened to as many pre-EMI recordings as have survived. By piecing together EMI documents and those of Brian Epstein, the band's manager, Mr Lewisohn has proven that George Martin—the producer who was instrumental in shaping almost every Beatles album—was pushed to sign the group before meeting them (owing to corporate pressure after he was found having an affair with his secretary; they got married and are still together today). This "goes against every known account," he says.
Also from The Economist, how the USB could be our ubiquitous power source:
The big change next year will be a new USB PD (Power Delivery) standard, which brings much more flexibility and ten times as much oomph: up to 100 watts. In his London office Simon Daniel, founder of Moixa, a technology company, charges his laptop from a prototype souped-up USB socket. The office lighting, which uses low-voltage LED (light-emitting diode) lamps, runs from the same circuit. So do the monitors, printers and (with some fiddling) desktops. Mains power is only for power-thirsty microwaves, kettles and the like.
That could presage a much bigger shift, reviving the cause of direct current (DC) as the preferred way to power the growing number of low-voltage devices in homes and offices. DC has been something of a poor relation in the electrical world since it lost out to alternating current (AC) in a long-ago battle in which its champion Nikola Tesla (pictured, left) trounced Thomas Edison (right). Tesla won, among other reasons, because it was (in those days) easier to shift AC power between different voltages. It was therefore a better system for transmitting and distributing electricity.
From Inside Higher Ed, MIT is using EdX to re-think their strategy:
That’s where edX comes in. Half of MIT’s undergraduates use edX content in their residential courses, and as more faculty members break their courses into modules, Agarwal said he expects MIT will move away from the traditional four-year on-campus experience.
An education from MIT may soon involve a freshman year spent completing online courses, two years on campus and a fourth “year” of continuous education. While students pursue their careers, they could access a growing library of online courses to refresh their knowledge, Agarwal said.
“As we blend the courses, universities will take the next step,” Agarwal said. “We would be woven into the fabric of universities. And as long as we’re adding value, we have no qualms about that.”
MIT has already taken what Agarwal called “a bold step” toward such a model, even though the institution only describes it as an experiment. In September, the university’s arm of edX, MITx, announced the creation of two “XSeries” -- edX courses bundled into sequences. Partner universities are weeks away from announcing their own XSeries, he said.
From the twitter feed.
Guardian profile: David Tennant, our favourite Doctor … his time has come
Oven chip sales slump: is the end nigh for frozen frites?

Ron Burgundy on wild eagles, hair myths and jazz flute
BBC's loss-making Lonely Planet deal under fire

Friday, November 22, 2013

Photo Paris Eiffel Tower

In Paris this week (for less than 24hrs) but he's a strange view of the Eiffel Tower taken in 1996.  Safe to say, the tower is still there.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Judge Chin Decides and Everybody Wins

About eight years ago I was one of the group at the Association of American Publishers that voted to file suit against Google for the unauthorized copying of upwards of 10million books (and other bound stuff) from the collection of five large academic libraries.  It wasn't long after the vote that I wished I had missed the meeting.

If nothing else, the passage of time since that suit was filed has proven that Google's activities were not the real enemy.  Google wanted to expose content locked away on shelves (off the network) to the same readers, researchers and other content users that the very same publishers were interested in selling to.  The risk publishers anticipated - that all content would be devalued and royalties due publishers would be circumvented - looks with hindsight to have been a red hearing.  The real problem for publishers with respect to the value of intellectual property quickly became apparent from the more obvious culprit:, which has successfully fought off the publishers, Apple, Google and everyone else and has won the battle over value.  After eight years, the (maybe) final end to the Google Books legal wrangle is a side show to the very real problems publishers have regarding their business models.

In ruling that the scanning program at Google was indeed fair use (and so emphatically that you have to wonder what took the guy so long) we may see some new products come out of this content library.  For example, I wrote of a subscription database product that Google could launch, others have spoken about the analysis of language, semiotics and culture that could be facilitated by this database and there will no doubt be other products.  What should be clear, is that access this ruling enables will enhance our knowledge and understanding about the content itself and the evolution of the printed word.  The next eight years might actually result in something useful.

There are four tests for fair use and Judge Chin as ruled as follows on these:

On purpose and character of use:
Google's use of the copyrighted works is highly transformative. Google Books digitizes books and transforms expressive text into a comprehensive word index that helps readers, scholars, researchers, and others find books. Google Books has become an important tool for libraries and librarians and cite-checkers as it helps to identify and find books. The use of book text to facilitate search through the display of snippets is transformative.
On the 'nature of the copyrighted work':
While works of fiction are entitled to greater copyright protection, Stewart v. Abend, 495 U.S. 207, 237 (1990), here the vast majority of the books in Google Books are non-fiction. Further, the books at issue are published and available to the public. These considerations favor a finding of fair use.

On the "amount and substantiality of the portion used":
Google limits the amount of text it displays in response to a search.
Lastly, on the "effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work":
...a reasonable factfinder could only find that Google Books enhances the sales of books to the benefit of copyright holders. An important factor in the success of an individual title is whether it is discovered -- whether potential readers learn of its existence. (Harris Decl. ¶ 7 (Doc. No. 1039)). Google Books provides a way for authors' works to become noticed, much like traditional in-store book displays.
In his concluding comments the Judge states:
In my view, Google Books provides significant public benefits. It advances the progress of the arts and sciences, while maintaining respectful consideration for the rights of authors and other creative individuals, and without adversely impacting the rights of copyright holders. It has become an invaluable research tool that permits students, teachers, librarians, and others to more efficiently identify and locate books. It has given scholars the ability, for the first time, to conduct full-text searches of tens of millions of books. It preserves books, in particular out-of-print and old books that have been forgotten in the bowels of libraries, and it gives them new life. It facilitates access to books for print-disabled and remote or underserved populations. It generates new audiences and creates new sources of income for authors and publishers. Indeed, all society benefits.
The wider relevancy of this opinion on fair use may well extend the law and could result in implications for other media and content businesses.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

MediaWeek (V7, N45): End of Music Compilations? How Students Perform, Intel buys Kno, 60mins Debacle + more

Now that's what I call pure proft.  There's still life in compliations: in a word curation.  (NewStatesman)
The brand has also taken the digital landscape head on and embraced the new realms of digital music platforms with a Now Spotify Channel, Now You Tube Channel and a Now iPhone app. In a new era where people have switched from CD to MP3 and digital downloads, where purchasing single tunes from albums is commonplace and economically sensible, you would think that there is no place for a compilation CD anymore? But no!  Just when you thought that this wounded animal was in its death throes it just plain refuses to die! It turns out that sales of compilation albums are on the increase as they’re cheaper than buying tracks individually. According to Jeff Moskow, Head of A&R for Now, only 15 per cent of Now’ssales are digital which means 85 per cent still come from traditional CD sales. Soundscan, which is one of the most widely used music sales tracking systems, show that digital sales in 2011 were larger than physical sales for the first time, however CDs still sell well in large chain stores and supermarkets – perhaps where Now’s target audiences regularly congregate. In its early days Now’s target audience was predominantly female until hip-hop started entering the compilations mix and now the gender split is pretty equal. What the Now brand has done is recognise the popularity of particular genres or trends in popular music (culture) amongst audiences and featured those songs and artists on their compilations. As Moskow says “electronic dance music is one of the biggest genres, and it’s growing, so that sound is reflected in our brand and songs.” “We’re not critiquing music, just curating it,” says Moskow, who has personally selected the songs on every album since Now 3. “We really don’t care what it sounds like.”
Using actual student performance data to learn what represents effective education.  What a concept (IHed):
The Science of Learning Center, known as LearnLab, has already collected more than 500,000 hours’ worth of student data since it initially received funding from the National Science Foundation about nine years ago, its director Ken Koedinger said. That number translates to about 200 million times when students of a variety of age groups and subject areas have clicked on a graph, typed an equation or solved a puzzle.  The center collects studies conducted on data gathered from technology-enhanced courses in algebra, chemistry, Chinese, English as a second language, French, geometry and physics in an open wiki.  One such study showed that students performed better in algebra if asked to explain what they learned in their own words, for example. In another study, physics students who took time answering reflection questions performed better on tests than their peers.
Intel has purchased software and (once, for a while) hardware manufacturer Kno (Intel) and Techcrunch:
Today, I’m excited to announce the newest resource in the Intel Education offering. Intel has acquired Kno, a leading education-software company whose guiding mission is to change the way students learn. Much like Intel, Kno believes engagement is key to student success.  The acquisition of Kno boosts Intel’s global digital content library to more than 225,000 higher education and K-12 titles through existing partnerships with 75 educational publishers. Even more, the Kno platform provides administrators and teachers with the tools they need to easily assign, manage and monitor their digital learning content and assessments.  We’re looking forward to combining our expertise with Kno’s rich content so that together, we can help teachers create classroom environments and personalized learning experiences that lead to student success. Check out the Intel Education newsroom for ongoing updates from Intel.
In a deal that puts that one in context, Intel announced the release of an education market focused tablet computer (History repeating itself?):
Intel introduced an education-focused tablet reference design, featuring an Intel® Atom™ processor and the Android* operating system code-named Ice Cream Sandwich*. The Intel Education tablet is specifically for education, featuring student-friendly designs that empower students to create compelling content. Features including front- and rear-facing cameras, a stylus, integrated speakers and microphones bring interactive, multimedia content into learning.

The tablet is fully equipped with Intel Education Software, a comprehensive suite of applications including an e-Reader, science exploration and data analysis  application and painting tools. It also has management software that provides teachers and administrators with tools to protect students and manage technology.

The [10inch] tablets are designed to enable interactive, collaborative learning to prepare students for success in school and beyond. These reference designs align with the Intel Education platform, which assists teachers and students in technology-enhanced learning.
Two weeks ago 60mins broadcast a riveting story on the Benghazi terror attack that resulted in the death of a US Ambassador.  Turns out it was untrue and the apology as a flacid and their fact checking. (NewYorker)
“Correction,” the word “60 Minutes” used, is a tricky one in this context. The program did not correct its report, in the sense of putting out an accurate version. The entire segment was pulled from its Web site. If the mistake was putting Davies on air, one might, in theory, imagine a correct version in which his interview is simply excised; that’s impossible here, though. There is no report without Davies. He is either speaking or providing the point of view for more than eight of its fifteen and a half minutes; we rely on him not only for the sight of Ambassador Chris Stevens’s body but for a phone conversation the two supposedly had a few hours before Stevens died—a particularly low form of fabrication, if that’s what it is—as well as calls he says he had with Sean Smith, another diplomat who was killed; Libyan guards; and another unnamed American at the compound. (“I said, ‘Well, just keep fighting. I’m on my way.’ ”) And he provides Logan with her guiding logic: “The events of that night have been overshadowed by misinformation, confusion, and intense partisanship,” Logan says.
And as others have noted, 60mins never mentioned in the initial broadcast that the fantasist's book was being published by CBS's Simon & Schuster.  The book is being pulped.  (Politico)

From twitter this week:
David Suchet: Poirot and me
BBC's loss-making Lonely Planet deal under fire  
Number of publishers forced out of business shows sharp increase - 

Saturday, November 09, 2013

Photo: Lausanne Switzerland

Public art in Ouchy Switzerland where I spent many weeks in the early 1990s.  Pretty place.  Never been back.

Friday, November 08, 2013

Books, What are they good for?

Wednesday, November 06, 2013

Responsive Web Design Session - CONTEC Frankfurt Bookfair

Slide 1: Good Morning and welcome to this session on Responsive Web Design at Contec Frankfurt. I am Michael Cairns from Information Media Partners and I am joined by Michael Kowalski from web consulting firm Contentment. We are going to speak to you today about Responsive Web design (RWD) – what it is, how it works and why you should consider RWD as your method of dealing with an ever changing and growing set of screen sizes and devices. Essentially, as a content owner and distributor you will want to provide your customers and clients with a consistent and optimized view of the material you put in front of them. You don’t want to make compromises and we will show you how having a RWD strategy can help you meet your client expectations and enhance the user experience.

(Click on the cover to see the entire presentation on

Slide 2: These are contact details for each of us and Michael K will introduce himself in a few minutes.

Michael Cairns, Managing Partner - Information Media Partners.
Michael Kowalski (Contentment) - Founder at Contentment

I am going to provide an overview of RWD and Michael K will then give some real life and practical suggestions that come from his experience in working with a variety of clients on a consultative basis

Slide 3: Over the past five years (and possibly longer) there has been a constant flow of articles and blog posts about RWD but, it is really only in the past two years or so that RWD has come into the mainstream where, for example, we are seeing panel discussions at scholarly publishing conferences discussing RWD. Incidentally, most of this presentation was given at the SSP winter conference in San Francisco back in May by my colleague Toby Plewak who deserves credit.

For anyone in the audience who wants more information about RWD simply Google the term and you will find yards of material. It is quite likely that the first item returned will be something by Ethan Marcotte and his stuff on RWD is really worth reading. I read this article he wrote in 2010 again last night as a refresher and his article covers much of what we are discussing today.

For those who have some idea what RWD is all about, you will also know that the concept isn’t really a new idea, but it has gained steam recently due to the proliferation of these newer technologies and solutions such as HTML 5, CSS 3 and media queries. Michael K will speak to these in a few minutes.

Slide 4: As I noted, the proliferation of devices is probably driving your design staff crazy since they fight every day to make your content look perfect on every conceivable new device. There is a diminishing return to this effort; moreover it is unlikely to be sustainable. So here is a quote from Jeffrey Veen at Adobe who believes that RWD is the way of the future – at least for the next ten years.

“Day by day, the number of devices, platforms, and browsers that need to work with your site grows.

Responsive web design represents a fundamental shift in how we’ll build websites for the decade to come.”

- Jeffrey VeenVice President, Products at Adobe

Slide 5: So what are we comparing when we speak of content delivered using the concepts of RWD versus the older traditional, fixed-width websites. These sites are rigid, inflexible and render legibly only when viewed at full-size on a desktop browser. They are designed to work in a single context and once we begin to interact with them outside of the context they were built for – namely sitting at a PC or full-screen laptop, they start to give us trouble.

We suggest that they represent old thinking: That the desk-top was going to be the primary – perhaps the only – way we would be consuming content. This assumption is obviously not the case.

Traditional websites will satisfy a designer’s impulse for control, predictability and order in a design however, from a usability perspective they fail on many levels for today’s typical content consumer.

Slide 6: Content access issues abound and we’ve all been there. Perhaps we find ourselves using a mobile device to access content we normally interact with on the desk top. This is a changing use pattern we are seeing more and more frequently. Your experience will instantly become confusing, annoying and frustrating when you find you can’t access the content as you would expect. You will be left to wonder why that should be the case. Why should my device or point of access matter?

Once we squish a website like this it into a small-screen device finding content becomes a needle-in-a-haystack sort of exercise: we are forced to zoom, pinch, scroll up, down, left and right to find or view what we are looking for. Navigation is nearly impossible and a finger sometimes needs to be as pointy as a sewing needle to tap a link or a button. The best/worst examples of this can be wifi access points where you are left to find the “Get on Line” button on your iPhone when it is so small it looks like a single solid line.

In short, a fixed-width website becomes virtually unusable as screens get smaller and our content becomes harder to access, navigate and interact with.

We could even end up having a Hugh Grant moment if we become too stressed out about this inconvenient experience. For those who remember his frequent refrain during that movie will know what I am talking about.

We will talk a little today about “context” and your user because it is important to understand where and how your target users interact most with your content. A nurse on station will have an entirely different requirement for access and use than perhaps a paramedic. The content they require may be the same but the ‘context’ the user finds themselves could be vastly different. A paramedic under stress is not going to want to zoom and pinch to determine what type of diagnosis to make.
Understanding how your customers access and use your content is an important first step in defining your RWD strategy.

Knowing whether they are at a funeral a wedding or some other event could prevent a melt down.

Slide 7: So this is where RWD comes in.

The Web is by nature a dynamic, flexible medium, and many people have suggested that RWD is the next natural phase of its evolution. In the past, designers and their clients spent huge amounts of effort trying to attain print-like pixel-perfection in their designs, like print projects, they attempted to make their websites look the same across the then-limited amount of available devices, resolutions, browsers and screen-sizes. But those days are over and that type of activity will begin to look anachronistic. Responsive design is a digression from this type of thinking. It forces us to think bigger, to put our USERS, our CONTENT and the Way(s) users access that content – that is CONTEXT at the CENTER of the design process.

RWD forces us to design SYSTEMS rather than just static INTERFACES - systems that can maintain the best possible access to, and presentation of, our content regardless of the device or screen-size.

Even the screen you are viewing this presentation on could legitimately be considered a ‘device’ screen and that is certainly true of television screens not just computers and mobile devices.

Slide 8: By now you should have a sense of what RWD is, but here is a specific example. The Boston Globe has been one of the pioneers in RWD and we can see how this works by viewing the Globe site using a traditional web browser. If you slowly reduce the browser window by pulling it slowly from the right edge to the center you can see at a certain point the content and design moves and changes. Content is stacked, menus are consolidated and made compact, images are resized, etc.

This process uses media queries to ‘sniff’ your browser and render the Globe content to match the device you are using. Media Queries are little bits of code that measure the width of the given screen and tell the browser how to adjust the size, placement and hierarchy of a given page’s elements. Using the principals of RWD, content is optimized based on the device you are using. RWD is a flexible, grid-based layout that expands and contracts based on the size of a given device’s screen and it uses flexible images, scalable typography and media that changes size when a different screen size is used. For example, going from an iPad to an iPhone.

Slide 9: Other examples of RWD sites are these here but I am sure you will find more on your own.


Slide 10: If providing a consistent optimized experience for our content users isn’t sufficient reason then consider that Google favors this approach. Google likes to access one url for site content rather than multiple urls that can exist when publishers create mobile specific versions of their content. Google doesn’t like that approach because they believe it doesn’t create a useful experience for their search customers.

On the Google web site you can also find this definition of RWD:

“Responsive web design is a setup where the server always sends the same HTML code to all devices and CSS is used to alter the rendering of the page on the device using media queries.”

One other aspect of RWD is cost and typically (in the absence of doing nothing) the alternative to RWD is often to build apps for the predominant operating systems such as iOS, Andoid, etc. Yet with as many device types as we are currently beginning to see – and we at IngentaConnect see a similar number of devices hitting our site - the ability to keep ahead of this from a development stand point has the potential to become very expensive. RWD may cost more upfront in development but over the long term it will be cheaper than the App approach as the number of device types and the need to tune your apps for every device continues to explode.

Slide 11: I almost omitted this slide, because in 2013 I don’t think I need to convince anyone here at Contac that mobile is important. It just emphasizes our point.

So why is RDW important?

Because more of our users are either going mobile or accessing our content from a variety of devices and they expect the same experience from one device to the other. All of us are consumers of content and we expect the same thing so why would we think our customers are different?

Here are some other stats:

· 2015 – 7.4 Billion wireless devices sold
· 1.2Billion smart phones devices enter the market over the next 5 years
· Enterprise table adoption grows by 50% year

Just this morning I saw this stat from Forrester - 35% of US mobile phone owners have used their device while shopping in a store in the past 6 months – which stat suggests whoever is delivering content to users in retail stores need to increasingly think about “context” as I mentioned earlier.

In this area, you don’t have to look far for some good stats.

Slide 12: So it won’t come as a surprise to anyone that mobile access is on track to outpace desktop access. This chart is reflecting internet usage in general, but we’re all seeing similar trends on our websites at PT. We’ve all known this, and for several years now we’ve all been working frantically to make our content accessible to mobile users.

Slide 13: As an indicator of how complex the delivery of content on mobile devices is becoming this page from the Cornell library website spends and inordinate amount of time and space explaining how to access the myriad offerings from a wide variety of content providers. This section reads like a rogues gallery of mobile publishers’ experiments in mobile strategy – apps for iPhone, apps for tablets, apps for Android, mobile optimized websites. Different hoops to jump through for access – paid apps, free apps that require subscriptions, mobile device pairing, etc. I don’t mean to call anyone out – there are some great apps listed on these pages: But looking at these pages got me thinking about the various problems and limitations in the mobile solutions we’ve tried so far.

Slide 14: Creating an optimized experience for your users could leave you feeling a little confused but for our users the experience is even more disorienting. We’re asking our users to access the same content in very different ways depending on what device they are using to access the internet. This can’t be a sustainable environment for content producers or users.

We suggest that without a RWD solution the typical mobile development process will not support your long term objectives as users change the way they interact with your content but naturally expect a consistent experience.

Slide 15: Without a RWD strategy our only option is to make assumptions and decisions about how to reach (and market to) our readers based on what device they have in their pocket. And as a result we are investing in mobile solutions one platform at a time. This is especially true when we are talking about native apps, but it also applies to many of the mobile sites we’ve built, optimized for one device over another. As I mentioned it becomes an expensive proposition to support all of these different solutions, especially if you’re only doing it to serve your existing subscriber base which means new costs but no new revenue

Slide 16: What typically happens is someone says we need a mobile web site or presence.

So we try mobile websites, and we strip them down and optimize them for the “mobile use case”.

But guess what this is all in vain as a recent survey from IBM suggests. Users want mobile to be *AT LEAST* as good as the desktop website. What a surprise! This is supported by the “View Full Site” button, a recommended best practice for those stripped down mobile websites. We’ve all seen that button, and importantly, most of us have had occasion to click it. At the very least that is a cop out and we can do better.

Think about that paramedic under intense circumstances having to click on that button.

Que the Hugh Grant explosion.

Slide 17: So when you begin to think about how you are going to start a RWD project these are some of the things you should consider versus the app approach.

App Approach:

· Do I want or need to be in the App store?
· Do I rely on or make use of device specific functionality like the camera?
· Do I have a specific functional focus?

· Do I have a content focused approach?
· So I need broad device support
· I may have frequent content changes
· I need better discoverability via a 3rd party like Google

Slide 18: It is generally better to be able to start from the smallest access point outwards however most content producers already have a web presence where content access has been thought about in terms of the desktop browser. That said each of these five considerations should be thought about by your team as they think about rolling out a RWD program.

· Assumptions about your audience: what they do, how they work, what content they use and why, etc.
· The audience “contexts”: where are they using the content, are there constraints?
· Always consider the typical devices, the environmental, user, psychology.

Content & Functionality
· Do you have a content strategy in place?
· Determine whether your internal processes need to change?
· Do your users need interactive content? Multimedia or other content formats?

· How will you support HTML5.0/CSS3/JS expertise
· UI/User design expertise will be required
· Don’t short change testing and user acceptance

Cost – potential to lower cost over time if one code base
· RWD expenses can be up front due to increased complexity and scope but less over time versus
App development

· A mobile first or the smallest screen upwards produces the best overall results: work from smallest out

Slide 19: As I mentioned earlier ‘context’ is really important and you will need to understand how your primary users interact with your content. Some things you will consider:

· How important are specific devices?
· Where are they likely to be using the devices – or do locations define the device.
· What are they doing when the use your content – that is what are their circumstances at the time? For example, are they typically under stress when using your content and is ‘time’ a serious consideration? In some cases potentially a life of death occurrence for a medical information provider.

It is important to understand how your users are using your content in a variety of situations and circumstances. That understanding can help you define your RWD approach.

Slide 20: Which brings us to the other big challenge we’re facing - the pace of change in the device space. It seems to be ever accelerating. There was even word recently that Apple may bring out a larger format iPad next year.

Slide 21 HTC has more than 20 screen sizes. Giving 30% to Apple

Slide 22: We can’t forget Samsung.

Slide 23: It is also important to understand that the lines between devices are blurring. The largest Samsung smartphone is not much smaller than the new iPad Mini. iPad + a keyboard is no smaller than my laptop. This Microsoft Surface tablet ships with a keyboard. This new Asus laptop has a touchscreen interface on the lid.

Slide 24: Publishers don’t need a “mobile” strategy. We need to completely rethink our ONLINE strategy.

Slide 25: A successful RWD project entails many if not most of the same considerations as a more traditional design implementation, and then some.

· Since we are designing for any number of devices, screens and contexts, we need to invest more time and effort up-front, gain a better understanding of our users, the way they access and use our content: what is important to them, and what is less so and use this as our foundation for planning.

· We need to prioritize how accessible our online offerings are based upon this understanding. We need to build flexible navigation structures, accommodating grid patterns, and a user experience that enables the largest amount of people on the broadest possible range of devices to find, explore and consume our content.

· We need to design for fat thumbs, for people standing on a crowded train or lying in bed, for a researcher trying to look up the name of an influential colleague whose name he forgot, who he’s about to meet with in 15 minutes.

· Lastly, we need to test our designs across devices, browsers and screen sizes. Get your site or prototypes into the hands of users and learn from them. Revise, test, repeat. It is an ongoing process.

It is a way to get your content out there, to take it beyond the bounds of the office or university walls.

Slide 26: So what is RDW in summary. It enables content owners to,

· Maintain one website that serves all devices and screen sizes
· Provide complete support for (almost) all website pages and features, regardless of device or screen size.
· Implement changes across all device

Slide 27: Lastly no presentation is complete without a quote from Bruce Lee and this one perfectly describes the RWD concept:
“When you pour water in a cup, it becomes the cup. When you pour water in a bottle, it becomes the bottle.”
Think about that.

Monday, November 04, 2013

MediaWeek (V7, N44) Amazon Data Mining and new Literary Journal, McKinsey Business Strategy, Association Publishing + More

Amazon mines data for the next hot hit (WSJ)
Amazon Studios ramped up in earnest this year when the pilots were posted online in April. Users were able to rate pilots with up to five stars and offer comments, just as they would for a book or a George Foreman grill on Amazon’s site.
The pilot data was sliced in various ways—the percentage of five-star ratings, for example. Users also could fill out written surveys. Executives in May reviewed data for each pilot as well as recommendations from Amazon’s programming team.
Traditional networks test shows, too, but on a much smaller scale—typically focus groups of about 50 people. Amazon is testing on a vastly bigger audience and is collecting a range of metrics unique to its service, such as whether members of its Prime service liked particular shows.
“Amazon has lowered the barriers of getting a script in the right hands,” he says. “I don’t think anyone else would have bought this.” He feels that portrayals of kids on TV can be too simplistic—they’re often very happy—and he wanted to explore a more complex set of emotions.
Amazon pays $55,000 for scripts submitted online. If the pilot is successful and the series goes into production, creators get up to 5% of merchandising receipts and a per-episode fee of $4,000 for a one-hour show and $2,500 for a half-hour show. Deals set up offline with more established creators vary depending on the writer’s reputation. One uncertainty for Amazon creators is how much revenue potential there is from “back end” proceeds such as syndication and DVD sales.
Amazon has launched a literary magazine:
With so many things competing for your attention in this increasingly digital world, it can be tough to figure out what to read next—especially if you are looking for fresh voices and new perspectives.
That’s why we created Day One, a weekly literary journal dedicated to short fiction from debut writers, English translations of stories from around the world, and poetry. Day One showcases just one writer and poet each week, with issues delivered directly to Kindles or Kindle reading apps. Each issue of Day One includes a letter from the editor, as well as occasional bonus content such as playlists, illustrations, or brief interviews with the authors.
In addition to fresh voices, Day One offers unique visuals—we commission the cover art for each issue from emerging artists and illustrators—and each week subscribers can learn more about the artist as well as the genesis of the cover.
McKinsey Quarterly article on business strategy formulation is interesting (McKinsey)
It’s also easy, though, to go too far in the other direction and make the creation of strategy a rigid, box-checking exercise. Appealing as a formula-driven approach might be, it ignores the truth that strategy creation is a journey—and an inherently messy one at that. Proprietary insights are hard to come by. Shaping keen insights into good strategies requires deep interpersonal engagement and debate from senior executives, as well as the ability to deal with ambiguity in charged and often stressful circumstances. When would-be strategists overlook these dynamics, they cover the essentials in name only. Consequently, they miss opportunities and threats, or create great paper strategies that remain unfinished in practice.
In this article, we’ll outline a middle path—an end-to-end way of thinking that views the creation of strategy as a journey, not a project. This method, developed through our work with some 900 global companies over the past five years, can help senior executives approach strategy in a rigorous and complete way. We’ll also describe some principles that strategists should keep in mind as they use the method to ensure that their strategic-planning processes embody the spirit of debate and engagement, which, in turn, yields inspiration. By better understanding both the method and how to get the most out of it, companies can boost the odds that the strategies they create will beat the market.
Folio Magazine published some results of their annual Association Publishing survey (Folio):
The 2013 association publishing survey breaks down what close to 200 respondents are seeing right now. Some elements, like revenue sources, haven’t changed much over that time. Print advertising is still the dominant source of income, followed by paid subscriptions and online/emedia. Other aspects, like the outlook for the coming year, have shifted dramatically. Respondents didn’t paint a rosy portrait—more than half of the associations surveyed say they’re projecting revenue to stay the same—but it’s a significant improvement from 2009 when 49 percent forecasted declines.  Other changes, like the introduction of digital editions, have altered the association publishing market as well. Five years ago, no one was producing them. Now, two thirds of respondents’ organizations are.
From Twitter this week:

Follett Invests in Campus Quad Mobile Platform for College Campuses -- CHICAGO, Oct. 30, 2013 /PRNewswire/ --
Courier Bringing Custom Textbook Production to Brazil
Netflix Flirts with a New Idea: “Big” Movies at Your House, the Same Day They're in Theatres :
In the New Economy, Everyone Is an Indentured TaskRabbit  

Saturday, November 02, 2013

The Red Door Galway

In the early 1990s, I got to travel to Ireland frequently for work.   This is a house somewhere in Galway where I spent a few weekends exploring.