Free Kindles, local mobile news, and pissed off fanboys: My recent CNN.com Tech mobile stories

It’s been a very busy month and a half for me. I spent a week in Los Angeles as a featured presenter for the Mobile News Week at the journalism school there, and now I’m finishing preparations to travel to two other journalism schools next week for the Knight Digital Media Center’s Mobile Symposium. So I haven’t been letting Contentious.com readers know what I’ve been writing elsewhere.

But I’ve been logging a lot of cool mobile stuff for CNN.com Tech. So here’s a quick list of what I’ve been covering there…

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ComScore Digital Year in Review 2010: My takeaways

Last week, ComScore published its big annual Digital Year in Review statistics compilation for 2010. I covered this report for both CNN.com Tech and the Knight Digital Media Center. While the report covers many media, communications, and tech topics, I focused on what it had to say about mobile.

My key takeaways…

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Three generational gadget trends for news orgs to watch | Knight Digital Media Center

Today at the Knight Digital Media Center site, I took another look at a new report from the Pew Internet and American Life Project about generational differences in tech gadget ownership and user.

See: Three generational gadget trends for news orgs to watch

The trends & implications I saw are:

  1. Picture-taking is the most popular non-voice cell activity, even more than texting! So why not do more with community-contributed pictures?
  2. Tablets are still a niche market. Right now, there are much bigger mobile fish to fry in terms of potential market size. Consider where your business interest really lie.
  3. MP3 players are especially popular with young adults, so consider doing more with podcasts and other audio content.

I discuss the details more over at my article on KDMC.

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.

Yet another reason to make your site mobile-friendly: disability access

I just wrote this post for the Knight Digital Media Center at USC:

Got accessibility? Mobile-friendly sites also help disabled users

It was sparked by a new Pew report on problems that people with disabilities have with accessing the net. I found a couple of interesting twists.

1st: US DOJ has proposed new ADA regs for web sites, including “public accommodations” (hm, could include news sites?)

2nd: Making a site mobile-friendly goes a long way toward making it more accessible.

This subject is near and dear to my heart since one of my best friends, who is mostly blind, has faced significant struggles in getting access to services, information, education, and opportunities online and elsewhere. That has definitely hurt not only his quality of life, but his health. And he’s fairly tech-savvy! This is a problem that needs to be solved, and going mobile-friendly is one main way to start.

Why news orgs and journos should engage online with groups & organizations

On the Knight Digital Media Center USC site, I just posted a short item about a new study from the Pew Internet and American Life Project:  Internet breeds engagement, not isolation, says Pew

At the end, I noted:

Given that groups often have considerable reach and influence, it makes sense for news organizations to actively engage local or relevant groups, especially via social media.

The online activities of groups are now a key channel for news, information, communication, and engagement for most Americans. It makes sense to build bridges with these channels in order to reach wider audiences and listen more effectively to community issues and concerns.

Which is yet another reason for the news business to get over its traditional stance of aloofness/separation from the community under the fig leaf of objectivity.

US Census upgrades American FactFinder tool, new data coming soon | Knight Digital Media Center

For journalists and others who use Census data, the American FactFinder is a key research tool. It just got a pretty major upgrade — although the 2010 data isn’t included yet. Apparently that will happen “in the coming months.

I wrote more about this for the Knight Digital Media Center at USC site: US Census upgrades American FactFinder tool, new data coming soon | Knight Digital Media Center.

Death of Tr.im: Rolling your own link shortener might be a good idea

RIP, Tr.im

RIP, Tr.im

UPDATE AUG 12: Tr.im reports that they’re not dead yet. Hey, congrats to them for working something out, at least for now. But still: As Aron Pilhofer notes in the comments below, relying on any third-party for a core functionality represents a significant risk, so I still stand by my advice in this post.

Yesterday the popular URL shortening service Tr.im abruptly bit the dust — begging the question of whether existing Tr.im shortlinks would suddenly break. (Tr.im says its existing links will continue to function at least through Dec. 31, 2009.)

This doesn’t affect me much, since I rarely used Tr.im — but others relied heavily on Tr.im and its statistics for how its shortlinks were used. Bit.ly, which also tracks shortlink statistics, is now Twitter’s default link shortener. PaidContent recently covered how difficult link shortener service business is. Which means that other link shorteners could fall down and go boom at any time.

So if you really must rely on shortlinks for any reason, it probably makes more sense than ever to create or control your own link shortener

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