My first TV news appearance: CNN interview, Easter 2011

This past Sunday (Easter 2011) was a pretty interesting day for me. I did my first-ever TV news appearance — I was interviewed live on CNN by Fredricka Whitfield about how mobile phone users are more vulnerable to e-mail phishing attempts. Here’s the video (sorry about the annoying preroll ads)…


CNN tech Writer Amy Gahran talks to CNN about… by BeyondPixBroadcast

And here’s the transcript.

Now that you’ve seen the finished product, here’s the backstory….

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Practical example of low-tech augmented reality: My phone’s camera

I was in Louisville, KY over the weekend, staying in an upper floor of the Galt House hotel, which offers an excellent view of the Ohio River.  In the wee hours last night, I awoke for a bit. I noticed that outside my window, I could see the bright blue lighted sign of a large office building. But my eyesight isn’t what it used to be. I could see the sign, but no matter how much I squinted I couldn’t make out the name declared by the sign.

This bugged me — and when stuff nags at my mind, even weird minor stuff, I have a hard time getting back to sleep. The hotel room was dark, and my eyeglasses were out of reach. I didn’t feel like getting out of bed. But my cell phone was within reach, on the bedside table. (It’s my main alarm clock.)

So I grabbed my phone and snapped a quick photo of the building with the blue sign. Then, looking at the phone on my phone’s screen, I could easily read: Central Bank.

sign on top of their downtown Louisville, KY building.

This satisfied my nagging curiosity, kind of like scratching an itch. I was soon back to sleep.

It occurs to me that this is a potentially significant use of augmented reality enabled by mobile devices — and the only “app” I needed was the software controlling my phone’s camera!

Most AR apps I’ve seen are kinda gimmicky or not very compelling. For instance, seeing local coupon offers overlaid on a camera app (which Junaio does), or local tweets similarly overlaid, hasn’t really thrilled me.

But being able to compensate for poor vision or a lack of information about what things are? That’s useful.

Now if only someone could do a similar service for audio that would automatically filter out noise in a train or bus station to tell you what the hell those announcers are really saying…

Massive Twitter research project yields insights on influence

My latest CNN post is actually not about mobile, for a change. It’s about the findings from a huge Twitter analysis done by an international research team.

See: How to gain influence on Twitter? Focus

Get this: They got Twitter to release to them a dataset of tweets from nearly 55 million accounts that were in use as of August 2009. That’s nearly 1.7 billion tweets, interconnected by almost 1.9 billion “social links” — which I think means @replies or retweets.

From this, they figured out some things about how influence works on Twitter. Basically, if you’re not already a celebrity or a major news organization or aggregator, then the key to gaining influence through Twitter is to focus on one or a couple of topics.

Also, the report has a good discussion of why popularity does not necessarily equal influence, especially on Twitter.

The research team is releasing its anonymized dataset. I bet other people will have a lot of fun running other analyses of this dataset.

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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E-mail on your phone? Watch out for phishing

My latest CNN.com mobile blog post concerns the recent Epsilon e-mail security breach. I received four e-mail notifications from companies I do online business with (banks, etc.) about this break last week, so I knew it was a big deal — but as the scope unfolds, it’s pretty staggering

Then I found a recent bit of research that has special relevance to mobile e-mail security. So I wrote this article:  Mobile users more vulnerable to e-mail phishing scams – CNN.com.

My favorite comment: “The reason iPhone users are 8 times more likely to enter a phishing site is because with an iPhone you can actually get to the website. Ever try to use the web browser on a Blackberry…their built in phishing security is that the web browser can’t open websites.”


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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What’s a mobile app?

First: What’s an app? This concept has gotten pretty mushy.

“App” is short for “application,” and traditionally this was just a really generic term for any standalone bit of software that runs on top of a computer’s operating system — the way that Microsoft Word runs on top of the Windows operating system.

Apps used to mean tools. That is, they were originally mostly about DOING stuff — and in my opinion, the best apps still are…

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Mobile media and PR

I am not a PR person, nor do I play one on YouTube. But it isn’t hard to see that mobile media is rapidly altering all parts of the media landscape — not just news and entertainment, but also public relations, media relations, and marketing communications.

This week I’m speaking at several sessions about the implications of mobile media at the Annenberg school for Communication and Journalism at the University of Southern California, Los Angeles. Their event is Mobile News Week 2011.

On Feb. 28 I’m addressing two PR classes. I’ve done a little research to spot some trends and resources, in addition to the mobile overview I posted earlier: The mobile landscape: 10 things media pros should know.

Here are some interesting tidbits about mobile and PR…

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The mobile landscape: 10 things media pros should know

What’s the current state of mobile media, what might the future hold, and what should media and communications professionals know about it? This week I’m speaking at a boatload of sessions on these topics at the Annenberg school for Communication and Journalism at the University of Southern California, Los Angeles. Their event is Mobile News Week 2011.

Many of these sessions involve me explaining important trends and context likely to affect how people use phones as media tools. Here are 10 key points I think are worth noting…

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