A trade journal of a still-emerging field, written by Adam Tinworth.

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3 on iPad

There’s a quite astonishing (to me at least) post on the Three blog today. Phil Sheppard has posted that 97% of the Three network’s traffic is data
That means that this “phone” network is actually just 3% voice traffic – a tiny amount. At those levels, it almost makes sense for the company to just encourage everyone onto VOIP solutions, and let the voice business go. And, that’s pretty much inevitable in the long term. Modern smartphones, like my iPhone, treat voice calls as just another app. It’s not the central raison d’être of the phone as it once was. So far today, I’ve received two phone calls on my “phone”, sent a couple of dozen e-mails, checked into four locations, browsed dozens of sites, sent a few tweets… 
They’re not phones, they’re just ultra-portable computers that can do voice calls. The network operators are just providing me with data access – and that’s clearest on my iPad, where there is no built in phone. The sooner voice and SMS fade away into the data stream, the better. 
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I am a journalist. I am married to a scientist. You can guess why I enjoyed this so much…

The journalist and the scientist are two species that inhabit the same ecosystem, but have very different behaviors. I have spent many years carefully observing both of these species in their natural habitats, and have compiled this guide for the use of anyone interested in understanding their social structures.

Well worth reading to kill those last few minutes before beer o’clock…

A webcartoonist laments:

I’ve seen examples of the beautiful work being done in interactive ebooks for children. They depress me. Kids are in a world of their own and we seek ever more to make concrete things that would have lived in their imagination. Any graphic work is dead on screen compared to how it looks on paper.
This is the first time I’ve felt like this. I love digital media. They free us from clutter, from waste. But I don’t think we have to be beholden to gadget manufacturers on books. I don’t think we need to enter the dismal Kindle’s annual upgrade curve. Books aren’t a delivery medium, they’re an art form. We forget that at our peril.

The shift to eBooks seems to have created a stronger nostalgia factor than music or movies did. But then, CDs were never as emotive a medium as LPs were, and the combined efforts of tape, minidisc and CD pretty much prepared the ground for MP3s to take root. And those of us who remember buying TV shows and movies on VHS video cassettes will remember what a dire format that was.

Books, though, shouldn’t be entirely an either/or choice. I’m now buying the majority of my reading in digital form, but I still buy, love and enjoy owning well-priduced hardbacks. Digital should kill the paperback. I think great hardbacks, as objects we can enjoy intrinsically linked to their content, should have a great future.

Rosie Niven comments on the BBC’s attempts to get its staff to mix it up a little:

I’ve been in a few newsrooms now and while I applaud the attempt to get staff out of their fiefdoms and mixing with people on other desks, I can’t see how this heavy-handed policy is going to work.

Oddly enough, the lack of integration between, say, news and features desks is often a problem on print titles, that just gets exaggerated as you move towards digital. The web/print divide is just the latest in a very long line of cultural chasms that have littered our newsrooms. At least that’s been my experience over the last couple of decades.

I’d be fascinated to know if anyone has every done any research into the psychology of journalists and why they can be both territorial and suspicious of change.

George Brock:

Given the eye-popping sales of the iPad, people are inclined to wonder out loud if tablets will “save” journalism. Wrong question. No platform or technology will “save” anything which depends so completely on the content and how good or bad it is.
Absolutely right. The questions people should be asking are “can we provide people with a compelling experience on this device?” and “is there an opportunity to make some revenue from it?” George has some thoughts on that.

So, what did I learn at this year’s Like Minds, other than lying around doing absolutely nothing on a Sunday (other than a trip to the tip. Oh, and to Waitrose…) is a good and necessary thing sometimes?
Well, this was, as previously noted, the first time I’ve liveblogged a three day conference and the first time I’ve done that blogging on the conference organiser’s site. Here’s what I learned about that experience:
  • The statue on Cathedral GreenDoing three days of liveblogging and seeing your own site’s traffic drop slightly is an odd experience
  • Being isolated from the traffic stats of the blog you’re writing for feels like blundering around in the dark. I had no idea if my work was having any resonance with the audience whatsoever. This makes me even more determined to make sure our journalists have easy access to blog stats as soon as we can.
  • Being an “official” liveblogger as opposed to a guest one changes your mindset. I felt obligated to blog every speaker session that came up, when normally I’d pick and choose to give myself a break. Instead, I ended up skipping an immersive one day and a lunch the next for a little RnR and a battery charge.
  • Not having power to the seat for liveblogging is a major handicap
  • I was pretty much dead to the world each evening, hiding in the hotel and hitting the sack early to prepare myself for the next day.
  • This was my longest continuous period working with WordPress, and I’d nearly convinced myself to switch this blog over when database errors started cropping up intermittently. That scared me off…
  • It’s interesting to not the differences between what live tweeters pick up, and what my liveblogging tends to emphasise. 
Still, three days of continuous liveblogging is possible, and I’m reasonably pleased with the results, which you can find on the Like Minds site. There’s also a compilation of links to other bloggers’ coverage, too. Onwards to Le Web…

Talking of Apple, I made a fun discovery on the way home from Like Minds last week. I stopped off at my mother-in-law’s, and helped her sort through some old family stuff. Amongst the various bits of memorabilia were these two souvenir magazines from 1981:

1981 Royal Wedding mags
And in the Telegraph magazine was the most wonderful advert. It was an Apple advert, for the Apple II in the pre-Macintosh days:

Apple advert from 1981

Not exactly a model of the modern, minimal Apple ad, is it?