Local, mobile, paywalls, Google, more: My latest KDMC news for digital journalists posts

Over the last month I’ve fallen behind on noting here what I’ve been writing at the News for Digital Journalists blog on the web site of the Knight Digital Media Center. Here’s a quick roundup of what I’ve covered there since late February…

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How mobile device use varies by generation

My latest CNN Tech mobile blog post . Pew has a new report out examining how Americans in different age groups use tech gadgets. The report also covers stuff like computers and game consoles, but I focused on mobile devices.

It’s not especially surprising news, but still good to know.

Report: 90% of Americans own a computerized gadget – CNN.com.

One point I note: According to Pew, 5% of US adults currently own a tablet.  I wrote:

If tablet prices start to drop and more options for size and connectivity emerge (especially likely for Android models), it’s possible that that many people who rely primarily on feature phones might choose to invest in a Wi-Fi-enabled tablet (a one-time expense) rather than upgrading to a full smartphone (with higher monthly bills and often unexpected charges).

Thoughts?

AVG: Kids are learning computer skills before life skills

From a recent AVG study:

“While we had a hunch that the skills of today’s 2-5 year olds would be very different to those of kids 20 to 30 years ago, we were surprised to find out just how much the childhood experience has evolved. According to our survey, while most small children can’t yet swim, tie their shoelaces or make breakfast on their own, they do know how to turn on a computer, point and click with a mouse, and play a computer game.

Take a look at some of the findings:

  • More young children know how to play a computer game (58%) than swim (20%) or ride a bike (52%)

  • 28% of young children can make a mobile phone call, but only 20% know to dial 911 in case of an emergency
  • 69% of children aged 2-5 can operate a computer mouse, but only 11% can tie their own shoelaces
  • Perhaps the most important piece of data to come out of this survey: the fact that 69% of children aged 2-5 are using a computer in the first place.

It’s exciting and commendable that so many parents are teaching their children such valuable computer skills so early on—they will need these skills to succeed later in life, and perhaps increasingly, not so later in life.

Journalism remains a smart career, despite shrinking newsrooms

Yan Arief, via Flickr (CC license)
Journalism skills work well outside the newsroom, too — maybe even better.

One of my BlogHer friends, Elana Centor, just wrote me to pose an interesting question. She asked: Is journalism a smart career path in 2008?

I’m just one of many people she asked, so I can’t wait to see her final piece. (I’ll post a link to it when it’s up.) But here’s a cleaned-up and expanded version of what I told her:

————–

Hi, Elana

Great question. Personally, I think that developing journalism skills and experience is valuable for many career paths — but I think that betting that you’ll spend your career working for mainstream news orgs is a losing proposition in most cases. I think most j-schools are setting bright students up to fail, and that bugs me. A lot.

It’s such a shame that most j-schools still are not teaching new journalists crucial skills they’ll need to act entrepreneurially in media: content management systems (including blogging tools), mobile tools and mobile media strategies, social media, business skills, management skills, economics and business models, marketing, SEO, community management, etc.

One exception to this is Arizona State Univ., which just launched the Knight Center for Digital Media Entrepreneurship that Dan Gillmor is heading up. Also, at various schools, there are exceptional teachers who really get online/mobile media and entrepreneurial journalism, such as Barbara Iverson at Columbia College, Mindy McAdams at the Univ. of Florida, Rich Gordon at Medill j-school (Northwestern Univ.), and Kim Pearson at The College of New Jersey. That’s important — sometimes all you need is one really good teacher in a program to open a student’s mind. (Disclosure: Barb, Rich, and Kim all contribute to Poynter’s E-Media Tidbits blog, which I edit.)

That said, what surprises me even more is that most j-school students don’t seem to care much about online media or being entrepreneurial…

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Landlines: Artifact of the 20th century?

GivePeasAChance, via Flickr (CC license)
Blast from the past.

On one discussion group I belong to, the question recently came up about whether members of the group had abandoned “landline” telephones entirely in their homes.

Actually, right now I’m in the process of trying out a VOIP service — and if it works to my satisfaction for a few months, I’ll move my phone number over to it and ditch my landline. (And if I eventually find a mobile phone and carrier plan that suits me, I may abandon VOIP too.)

My colleague Gary Rosenzweig of CleverMedia made an interesting comment: “I’ve got a couple of young people working for me that have never owned a land line in their lives. They say none of their friends do either.”

Make sense. Why should they? It seems to me that the one advantage of a landline is that it works when the power goes out and the cells are down — as long as the whole phone system hasn’t crashed. But is that emergency capability worth paying $25-$30/month for? I don’t know about you, but I live in a fairly compact neighborhood where some of my neighbors are keeping their landlines and would let me make outgoing calls or give their number in an emergency. So I feel no need to keep a landline of my own for emergency communication.

And anyway, I figure if you’re serious about wanting emergency communication, get an amateur radio license.

What about you? Have you given up landlines? What about people you know? And does age seem to be a factor? Please comment below.