Digital Stucco

WhatsApp + Facebook, ¿LOL?

Posted on February 20, 2014
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Una presentadora de la televisión en inglés, por lo general bien informada, reconoce al comentar la noticia de la compra de WhatsApp por Facebook, que no había oído nunca hablar de esa plataforma de mensajería móvil instantánea. El comentario sorprende a primera vista, al referirse a una empresa por la que Zuckerberg and Co. han accedido pagar 16 mil millones de dólares entre efectivo y acciones.

Flickr: Jan Persiel

Este sería según Bloomberg el acuerdo de mayor monto en el mundo de internet desde que AOL compró se fusionó con Time Warner en 2001 en una transacción valorada en 164 mil millones de dólares. La mención de este dato es puramente por motivos de comparación, no para traer a colación el tema de los valores que se desinflan—no  queremos, ni por casualidad, atraer otra burbuja en la industria digital. Toco madera.

Las reacciones en las redes cubren un amplio rango de sentimientos. Vemos desde la preocupación por lo que la compra pueda significar para los usuarios de WhatsApp y Facebook en materia de privacidad (la amiga Antigurú se horroriza ante la posibilidad de que los algoritmos de ambas plataformas unan fuerzas para husmear en las interioridades—léase vida sentimental—de los incautos internautas) hasta  los comentarios en el grupo de Facebook de los ex empleados de Yahoo!, donde algunos ven la buena fortuna de sus antiguos colegas, ahora flamantes multimillonarios, como una señal de que Yahoo! no da en el clavo aprovechando el talento.

Sin embargo, al mirar un poco más se nota que el comentario de la presentadora no dio una nota discordante.  No fue ella la única en preguntarse qué es WhatsApp, cuando incluso un importante diario como USA Today se vio inclinado a publicar la nota explicatoria. El hecho es que se trata de una marca poco conocida en Norteamérica, mientras en el resto del mundo es extremadamente popular.

Precisamente la plataforma le hizo la boca agua a Zuckerberg con sus más de 450 millones de usuarios activos, a quienes se suman grandes volúmenes constantemente pues se mantiene entre las primeras en las listas de las más descargadas.  Algunos estimados del total de  usuarios (activos o no) la pondrían con mas de 100 millones, y aunque esos números son imprecisos porque no se revela un número oficial, el propio comprador dijo que espera un crecimiento a más de mil millones de usuarios.

Con esas expectativas, la movida de Facebook subraya el hambre de audiencia que vive el sector y podría indicar también un paso más hacia los objetivos altruistas de la empresa de conectar a poblaciones hasta ahora olvidadas por las redes. WhatsApp goza de popularidad particularmente en áreas del mundo en desarrollo como India y África, debido a que permite comunicarse sin pagar a las telefónicas por los mensajes de texto, incluso desde teléfonos de generación no tan avanzada.

Ahora, Facebook no es una organización caritativa y tiene que generar dinero. La pregunta (literalmente) millonaria es cómo esta adquisición va a ayudarles a traer ingresos que justifiquen la inversión y por supuesto, qué impacto esto tendrá para nosotros, los usuarios.

Con los nuevos millones de pares de ojos de quienes no estaban ya en Facebook, la publicidad sería una avenida, pero ¿quién quiere ver anuncios en su mensajero? ¿O hacer click en un anuncio que le saque de una animada conversación? No en balde los creadores de WhatsApp se declaran alérgicos a la publicidad.  Lo que queda sería aumentar el precio de la aplicación, porque con 1 dólar que se paga ahora, la cuenta definitivamente no da. Esto sería un riesgo porque WhatsApp no es el único tren en la estación, en especial si se apunta a regiones pobres del planeta.

Con las presiones de Wall Street renovadas por el acuerdo, este sería el momento de esperar un modelo innovador que refleje las nuevas formas en que nos relacionamos digitalmente entre personas y con los medios. Si no aparece, y esta compra acaba uniéndose al panteón histórico de las peores transacciones de la industria, no digan que fue mi culpa por mencionar aquí el caso AOL-TimeWarner.

 

Paying It Forward >> ONA13 Conference Registration Giveaway

Posted on October 1, 2013
Filed Under digital media, journalism | Comments Off on Paying It Forward >> ONA13 Conference Registration Giveaway

Are you a Latino Journalism/Communication student or recent grad wanting to attend ONA13 in Atlanta, Oct. 17-19?
When I was a student just starting out in media and journalism, I was fortunate to have been advised by a number of mentors. They offered me advice and career help, they helped me network.
Now, I want to pay it forward. I’m donating an ONA13 conference registration to a student or recent grad, preferably a member of NAHJ, the National Association of Hispanic Journalists. In addition to your conference registration, you’ll get an ONA membership. I will mentor you throughout the conference, introduce you to other journalists and innovators, and help you learn as much as you can.
If interested in being considered let me know here by Friday.
‪#‎payingitforward‬ / @DigitalHiram

From net to radio: adapting a third-world solution to a first-world problem

Posted on June 25, 2009
Filed Under digital media, journalism, media convergence | Leave a Comment

Interesting how things work similarly in separate universes.  From a presentation by the director of ElFaro.net, at the annual meeting of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists:  they are succeeding in the goal of reaching large audiences in the country with a very limited internet penetration. El Faro founder and director Carlos Dada explains that at some point they realized their content was only reaching the country’s elite and decided to get into radio, a medium with larger penetration.  However, funds were scarce so instead of creating a radio station they started to work with 30. El Faro pieces are distributed as podcasts to radio outlets throughout the country for free.  This is partially funded by non-profit organizations which make it possible–though it doesn’t make this internet-only media outlet profitable. Social responsibility is a key factor here.

Another panel this morning talked about monetization issues for US journalists that are now trying to get by on their own (that’s a common occurrence nowadays, after the repeated rounds of lay-offs in the media industry).  Participants were asking repeatedly about using grants from non-profits to cover the costs of producing content. It would be a good idea to put the non-profit monies and radio distribution together.  That’d be adapting a third-world solution for first-world problem.

Note to talking heads on Judge Sotomayor’s ethnic background

Posted on May 26, 2009
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As we got bombarded with non-stop coverage of Sonia Sotomayor’s nomination to the Supreme Court, I couldn’t help but notice that some of the commentators and journalists seem to go straight for the immigration angle… even my favorite political reporter, CNN’s Candy Crowley. Candy just said that “[Sotomayor’s] career is the dream of immigrants.” Some other journalists even in the Spanish-language media have gone as far as implying a direct link between Sotomayor’s nomination and immigration reform.

Folks, while this nomination is a great accomplishment for Judge Sotomayor and the Hispanic community, hopefully she will be considered on her own merits not her background.  However, if you can’t avoid talking about it at least make sure you have the geopolitical facts straight.

Luckily, the National Association of Hispanic Journalists (NAHJ) was quick to point out that Sotomayor is not the child of immigrant parents.  NAHJ sent a fast warning to media and consumers asking them to “Avoid Confusion on Sotomayor.”  As they put it:

The National Association of Hispanic Journalists would encourage news organizations to avoid any confusion over Judge Sotomayor’s ethnic background. Her Puerto Rican parents are not immigrants, as some journalists have reported, since island-born residents are U.S. citizens, conferred by an act of Congress in 1917. People who move to the U.S. mainland from Puerto Rico are no more immigrants than those who move from Nebraska to New York.

The (shrinking) job board for broadcasters

Posted on April 21, 2009
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Jobboard at RTNDA This is a picture of an actual job board at the RTNDA@NAB convention.  That is, the meeting of the Radio and Television News Directors Association, happening in Las Vegas.  I saw only two of these boards along a fairly transited hallway.  Not surprising, given the state of the industry.  It is actually hard to believe that somebody could land a job this way nowadays.  It is also odd to see it in a conference where most people are drumming up digital media stuff.

Isn’t it a sad sight?  And not just because it is a traditional, cork-backed, bulletin board.Granted, the board has some CDs hanging from it but it is unlikely that some of them belong to multimedia folks.  One may think that those are operating along the social networks.  The question is: what are are the execs looking at, the bulletin board on the wall or at the other wall, you know, in the social net?  Go figure.

Luckily, the good folks at CNN seem to be hiring here:

cnn at job board

Another charmin’ mobile app: potty train your phone

Posted on March 26, 2009
Filed Under digital media, networked society, personal technology | Leave a Comment

After everything you can rate, here comes the kicker: public toilets.  This mobile application sponsored by Procter&Gamble’s Charmin brand combines location-aware services (the “you are here” type) with a collaboration tool (think Wikipedia for toilets).  The concept is so simple that it is, well.. charming.

SitOrSquat screenshotThe web based application located at SitOrSquat.com is billed as a “place to find and record bathrooms anywhere in the world.” But it will probably prove more useful on any mobile phone… you know, when you gotta go. It is currently available for iPhone and Blackberry. Beyond the marketing implications of this development for the consumer goods industry, it should be extremely valuable for the common user of public toilets.  Let’s face it, who hasn’t been in urgent need of a toilet and trying to “weight options”? Yeap, sometimes is good to know if you should sit or squat–and I’m not talking about women only.

The application allows users not only to rate a bathroom, but also to comment on its location.  For instance, you will be able to note if the Starbucks where a particular toilet is located offers good wireless internet connection.  This is crucial. Particularly if you are trying to collect your thoughts and report them right from the scene.

The power of the (fashion forward) network

Posted on March 25, 2009
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How did I end up at a fashion show, wearing a shirt by an award-winning, rising star designer?  And no, I wasn’t on the runway  True story: my network led me right onto what could have been the ‘pièce de résistance’ of the collection.  By the hand, literally. That is, my off-line network.

It happened at Miami Fashion Week.  I was there with a team, producing the coverate, when somebody from another crew whom I have known for a long time called me and said that I had to see this designer’s clothes.  I ended up on a second-story room where up-and-coming Pakistani designer Munib Nawaz was liquidating what was left of the collection he had just presented. I told him that I liked Armani shirts for their fit and he said he was the next Armani, while I tried a shirt I liked and my friend insisted that I had to wear it right away (I did).

Minutes later Munib received his Men’s Style Award on stage.  Funny thing, the award was delivered by actor Vincent de Paul, from the movie “Poseidon,” who later approached me at the afterparty and asked who was I wearing. I said: “the guy you just gave an award to.” Full circle.

See more coverage of the Miami Fashion Week by context*d in MSN Latino.

Homesick? Download this iPhone application

Posted on January 17, 2009
Filed Under digital media | Leave a Comment

iheartradioI just got a tip from a friend (thanks Claudio!) about this iPhone application that allows you to listen to radio stations from all over: iheartradio. Now, I’m not one to rave too much about apps but this particular one I found sort of surprisingly useful. It sorts stations by cities, formats, genres (you can get talk radio here too) an allows you to mark your favorites. It also pulls local stations for your particular location using the geolocation capabilities of the iPhone.  Obviously, the first thing I did was to look for my favorite station in Atlanta–yes, there’s people who leave the ATL for work reasons and then miss it.

Now I have a few questions: what happened with Start94? There’s an AT40 with Ryan Seacrest’s face on all the time, what about it? Any more info on the iheartradio app? 

Crashing on Twitter

Posted on December 29, 2008
Filed Under digital media, journalism, media convergence, networked society | Leave a Comment

Talk about Twitter as an emerging tool for breaking news reporting… first Mumbay and now this: plane crash play-by-play.  I just saw it in the blogs at PC Mag (Man Tweets From Plane Crash, by Scott Nichols).  As it turns out, Mike Wilson (@2drinksbehind) was in the plane that ran off a runway in Denver recently.  Apparently, after recovering from the initial shock, Mike got on to doing some reporting from the scene through Twitter via his iPhone.

screenshot

He even managed to take some pics and shared them afterwards.
Share photos on twitter with TwitpicFrom the activity in Mike’s Twitter account it seems that he was also on TV telling his story.  It is not clear if it was because of his tweets or just as a “regular” eyewitness.  Regardless, his followers are now upwards of 2K–among them, CNN Breaking News (@cnnbrk).  I hope Mike doesn’t get into any more plane crashes or other emergency situation, but just in case I’m now following him too.

You edit: CNN reporter sees Russia from Alaska

Posted on October 2, 2008
Filed Under digital media, journalism, networked society, politics | Leave a Comment

It did not take much for this story to happen: maybe just some imagination from the AC360 crew at CNN and a healthy budget to send Gary Tuchman all the way to the part of Alaska from when one can actually see Russia. Yeap, he went that far–geographically and journalistically speaking–with the joke about Sarah Palin’s foreign policy credentials.  But how do those check out?

According to Tuchman, you can actually see Russia from Little Diomede, Sarah Palin has never been there or spoken with local authorities, and the islanders are, well… not current with the news. Aren’t we stating the obvious? The story sounds so slanted that it invites some copy-editing. Let’s be the editors even if it is after publication. When it becomes digital stucco, the media product is never finished. It can be re-contextualized, analyzed, changed.

The editor:  hey, Gary, about this line…

This is the island, a piece of Alaska that Governor Sarah Palin cites as evidence of her foreign policy experience.

…is that really what she said? We may want to rephrase that.  And about this part…

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She’s making a comment that she shouldn’t have made in the first place about seeing Russia. She should have come out here beforehand and then made the comment.

TUCHMAN: While some here feel Sarah Palin is doing a good job as Alaska governor, others are nowhere near getting swept up in her new national fame.

…don’t we have a soundbite for the “good job” thing?

Below is the video and here is the rough transcript from CNN.com.  Feel free to add your own edits in the comments section of this post.

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