What Is a Smartphone to a Kid?

imagesWhat is a smartphone to a kid? What is the first thought that comes to a kids mind when he thinks of a smartphone? What role does “location” play in his thinking process? How can it be used for education?  Last Friday, June 14th, during the celebration of the new grant River City Youth Foundation (RCYF) received from the City of Austin’s government, I was struck by a 10 years-old Latino kid who gave me a genuine and spontaneous answer to the question: “Tell me three things you can do with a smartphone?” In Spanish, I had posed the question to the entire audience who were residents of DoveSprings, a low-income neighborhood in the southeast of Austin.

Oné Musel-Gilley, the PR of RCYF and founder of the program Techcomunidad, was asking the kids educational questions and presenting them with awards.  Many children were standing in front of me and could not wait to hear my question. Thus, the boy was pretty excited to answer the question in order to get the award. Moreover, he needed to be competitive; after all there were others kids standing besides him, all of them eager to earn a gift as well. After thinking for a few seconds, the kid said the answer at full blast: 1) Look for places, 2) Talk to friends, and 3) Take pictures. His response could not be more complete. He was happy as he was rewarded!

There were three observations that I made about his response. First, his response conveys the potential of the smartphone as a tool to enhance people’s sense of physical places, the development of location-based applications, and the potential of place-based storytelling. Second, it shows the social aspects of the applications. It is interesting to note that he used the verb “to talk” instead of “to call”, extending the meaning of a smartphone to digital social networks. And third, the “take pictures” response also illustrates the smartphone as a practical tool.

Another interpretation of his answer is the fact that smartphones are highly associated with navigation. I was wondering to which degree of familiarity the kid had with smartphones. I then noticed that his mother had a smartphone. In the beginning of the celebration, when just a few people were there, she was using it. After a while she put the phone down on the table. It is very likely that this kid’s family use the smartphone for navigation purposes.

The kid’s response was overall representative of how kids in this day and age perceive digital mobile devices around them. For example, findings from a technology survey by CDW-G highlight the difference in how teachers and kids perceive technology. While 75% of teachers say they regularly use technology in their classrooms, only 40% of students report use of technology in classrooms. This survey also shows that a “whopping 94 percent of students report that they use technology to do their homework, while less than half of all teachers (46 percent) incorporate technology into homework.” This technology is quite restricted to the use of smartphones, since kids have a heavy usage of mobile phones (see the recent Pew Internet Research 2013 report).

I wonder if the 10 years-old boy had the opportunity to use any digital mobile device in his school. I also wonder how his parents would respond to the same question. Certainly, there is an entire new world that is open to researchers who are interested in learning how the next generations will use digital mobile devices in the long term. During my fieldwork, I will observe some of these generation dynamics and I will share some of these thoughts on my research “journey”, here on this blog.

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Doing Research in Austin, Texas

Dovesprings is located in the southeast of Austin
Dovesprings is located in the southeast of Austin, Texas

My research combines three different fields: locative media, citizen journalism, and memory studies. Building on the principles of these areas of research, I am proposing a new concept called “locative citizen journalism”, which briefly means the creation of place-based stories by local residents about their locality with a very strong historical, life stories, and memory aspects.

I am currently conducting fieldwork in Austin, Texas. For the purpose of my dissertation, I am taking the approach of “Ethnographic Action Research” (EAR). It merges methods of ethnography with action research, which aims at engaging different stakeholders in the research development.

Following this premise, my professor Dr. Joseph Straubhaar and I have partnered so far with two organizations, in Austin, where I will run workshops with local residents about the creation of local content and upload this content to a website and mobile application called HistoryPin (see more information below). During the process, I will observe, take field notes, interview participants and participate with them in the creation of their stories. To ensure the integrity of participants, I have received approval by the Institutional Review Board (IRB) of The University of Texas at Austin.

Our two partners are River City Youth Foundation (RCYF) and Latinitas. The first is a non-profit organization located at Dove Springs, a very low-income area in the southeast of the city. This neighborhood is Austin’s largest populated youth community, where one of every two households does not have technology access, and the residents are mainly Latinos and African-Americans. Since many of the residents are Spanish speakers only, the organization has a bilingual workforce. In order to bridge this digital gap, Oné Musel-Gilley – the public relations of RCYF – founded the program/event TechComunidad, which is focused on the technology training of parents/adults to capacitate them to guide theirs kid’s education. Sponsored by Dell, TechComunidad granted many families with a Dell tablet in 2012.  Those parents will be the participants of the workshops I will run about mobile/locative media.

Our second partner, Latinitas, is also a non-profit organization founded in 2002, with the aim of teaching young latinas girls media and technology. The organization publishes a magazine and also hosts media enrichment programs.Latinitas will hold summer camps in June and July. My workshop will be integrated in the session “Media is Power” (June 24-28).

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The overall goal of these workshops is to help local residents understand their local environment in a holistic way, increase their sense of place (mainly about their neighborhood) in order to raise awareness of their reality in the city as whole. However, it is important to highlight that the workshops will function as focus groups. Therefore, rather than only teaching, my goal is also to learn from the community what matters to be reported, to be remembered in order to change the present and make their present more meaningful. I also plan to observe how they react towards location-based technology in general.

HistoryPin

HistoryPin is a great tool for this study, because it is a social mapping website and also a mobile application – available for ISO and Android operating systems – that allows users to pin images, video, and audio clips to Google Maps. Users can include a story about each image and other meta data. It also enables the user to create a channel, where you can manage and customize your content and page. The versatility of HistoryPin facilitates the work and uploading of contents, either on the fly or working at desktop computer. With the mobile app, users can overlay images with Google street view, take walking tours, and see collections. Users are also able to see on the map stories that are near to them, through location disclosure.

Before choosing HistoryPin for this study, I looked at several other applications, such as crowdmap/Ushahidi, local wiki, and Broadcaster. I also talked to the journalism professors Amy Weiss Schmitz – at San Diego University- and Cindy Royal, – then at Texas State University – who have tried some of these apps with their students. After doing the research, I concluded that HistoryPin would be the easiest platform for participants. It has a user-friendly interface, a very little learning curve for pinning.

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Some researchers consider the low awareness of HistoryPin a drawback. However, for the purpose of this study, this is a matter of fact. Many past quantitative studies about location-based services have showed that users do not see a benefit in disclosing location and that those services are not reaching the tipping point. Building on that, I also aim to observe how early adopters understand the value of those apps.

HistoryPin is designed by non-profit “We are what we do” in partnership with Google. According to Kevin C. Miller (2013), the platform has about 232, 293 items pinned and about 400,000 visitors per month. It has also 45,000 contributors and 1, 100 institutions.

Liquid Research Proposal

gps_museumThe development of a consistent research proposal is key for the success of any PhD thesis. That is the process of choosing a topic, doing an exhaustive literature review, identifying gaps in the field, raising research questions, and finally selecting the right method to answer these questions. Anne Galloway – in the introduction of her dissertation entitled “A Brief History of Locative Media and Urban Computing” (2008) – says that a research proposal is a “warm-up stage”.

Based on my experience, I would say that it is through this process that a student becomes knowledgeable and confident about the chosen research topic. Thus, it is advisable to extend this warm-up stage for a good length of time. It is important to have feedback from different professors and colleagues from different universities, not only from supervisors, and to take courses in different fields in order to have a solid and extensive background.

Within eight months, I had to design three different research proposals, all in the scope of locative media. It happened because the first one was refuted by one of my advisors, the second was disrupted because one of the case studies – the hyperlocal service EveryBlock – was shut down, and finally the third was the one, which was presented to and accepted by the research committee. Rather than describing those proposals, I want to highlight what I learned from them and from the experience of the feeling of failure.

First of all, my experience illustrates the difficulties of doing research in the field of digital media, a world where everything is very liquid and transitory. On the one hand, this is positive because it facilitates one to be innovative. On the other hand, one needs to juggle with uncertainty. That is why there is a turn to the construction of prototypes and experiments in social sciences. It seems that there is a call to think in more suitable research methods to study digital media. By doing the literature review, I learned that the research in locative media, for example, is quite interdisciplinary, nevertheless, the empirical research is often undertaken by designers, architects, computer scientists or interdisciplinary groups.

Unlike those researchers, media scholars undertake qualitative studies such as cases studies, interviews, and ethnography. Therefore, the question is: Given that these digital services have a short lifespan, how can one come up with a good case study that keeps its relevance over time? In one of the conversations I had with a professor and expert in the scholarship of locative media, she posed me the following concern: “You have to think that your dissertation has to have an impact int the academic community when you finish it in two years. What if “Foursquare” (a potential case study for me) fades into inexistence in two years?” That was also the concern of my professor who refuted my first proposal. I had proposed to study two cases: the growing Monmouthpedia and the inexistent Manor. Both of them were cities, in which buildings had QRcodes with articles about their places where they were stuck, a phenomenon named “physical geotagging” (see my blog post “Geotagging of Physical Places“). The core of my proposal was to understand why many of locative media projects fails and why they are not reaching the tipping point.

By discussing this concern with a friend of mine, who is a professor in the engineering school, I learned with him that one possible response for this question is to invest in “fundamental research”, without any direct practical application or use in view. After all, there are blasts of new fields of research, that are absorbed by distinct other areas, which demands understanding from the start. For example, locative media ranges from new media arts to journalism.

Over time, I concluded that the three proposals were the bedrock of my dissertation, since they altogether were the source from where my current project germinated. Only now I recognize that, but I have to confess that for a long time I felt sorry for myself for having my first proposal refuted. It is obvious that was not an easy process, neither emotionally nor intellectually. However, I grew mature and stronger to come up with better ideas.

 Tips for people who are working on a research proposal:

1) In the beginning, you do not even know the terminologies of your field of research. Type all combinations of words and terms that come to your mind in the library databases search.

2) Once you have read many papers and books, and identified the experts in your field, try to reach them out. The best strategy is to attend conferences focused in your area of research, even if you do not have a paper to present. The experts will be there and you will be able to talk to them over lunch or coffee breaks. Don’t be shy!

3) Make a list of research questions and keep it in your purse or pocket. I know that sounds nerdy, but that is a good way to develop them into better ideas.

A New Book about Mobile Media


Rowan Wilken and Gerard Goggin just published “Mobile Technology and Place”, a book about the interactions between mobile media technologies and issues of place. This book will be crucial to my research project (about how location-based services may affect our way of receiving and exchanging information in public/urban places and how it can enhance the spread of news) and for all those interested in the transformations provoked by location-based services in public and urban places. In this sense, I highlight the chapter five “The Urban Dynamics of Net Localities: How Mobile and Location-Aware Technologies are Transforming Places”, written by the researchers Eric Gordon and Adriana de Souza e Silva. However, it has been hard to get the book. It costs 125$ and it is “temporarily out of stock” on the Amazon.

Acompanhe a cobertura do ISOJ 2012 neste blog

Este blogue irá cobrir a 13ª edição do Simpósio Internacional de Jornalismo Online, que irá acontecer nesta sexta e sábado, 20 e 21 de Abril, na Universidade do Texas em Austin, nos Estados Unidos. A autora deste blogue também publicará informações no seu Twitter (@silvaclaudia01). Uma vez que o simpósio é mais conhecido por ISOJ, sua sigla em inglês, procure, no Twitter, pela hashtag “#ISOJ”.

Sendo reconhecido internacionalmente, por reunir executivos de mídias, jornalistas e pesquisadores de jornalismo, de várias partes do mundo, o ISOJ 2012 inclui, na sua programação, jornalistas de grandes jornais como The New York Times, The Dallas Morning News, The Washington Post, El País e LaNación, e painéis sobre smartphones, mídias sociais, jornalismo empresarial e jornalismo de dados. Importantes pesquisadores de jornalismo, como Dan Gillmor, autor de “Nós, Os Media” e Mark Briggs, autor de “Entrepreneurial Journalism” (sem tradução em português), também estarão presentes no simpósio.

As conferências principais serão dadas por Richard Gingras, diretor de notícias da Google, que irá falar sobre o “futuro das notícias”; Jim Moroney, presidente e CEO do jornal Dallas Morning, compartilhará os desafios de um jornal tradicional para sobreviver na era digital;Bob Metcalfe, co-inventor da Ethernet e professor de inovação na Faculdade de Engenharia da Universidade do Texas em Austin, irá mostrar como o “ efeito da rede” beneficia startups em jornalismo. E por fim, Raju Narisetti, editor administrativo do The Wall Street Journal Digital Network, irá defender a ideia de que o desafio das redações é a intersecção entre tecnologia e conteúdo.

No primeiro dia do simpósio, para além da abertura feita por Gingras, haverá um painel sobre a transição de conteúdos dos computadores de mesa para os dispositivos móveis e de que forma os jornalistas estão a lidar com esta mudança. O tema será discutido por Joshua Benton, diretor do Nieman Journalism Lab, Harvard University; Pedro Dória, editor de plataformas digitais do jornal O Globo; Harry Dugmore, professor da Rhodes University; Blake Eskin, editor Web da New Yorker Magazine; Louis Gump, vice-presidente da CNN Mobile; JV Rufino, presidente do Inquirer Mobile e Willian “Whurley” Hurley, fundador da Chaotic Moon Studios.

O outro tema a ser discutido neste dia será inovação e empreendedorismo em empresas jornalísticas.

No sábado, a conferência será aberta pela palestra de Bob Metcalfe, seguida de painéis sobre jornalismo de dados e, na parte da tarde, depois da palestra de Raju Nariseti, haverá um painel sobre o impacto das mídias sociais no jornalismo, no qual Dan Gillmor será o  mediador da discussão.

O ISOJ é organizado desde 1999 pelo professor brasileiro Rosental C.Alves, Knight Chair em Jornalismo & UNESCO Chair em Comunicação, e diretor do Centro de Jornalismo nas Américas, na Universidade do Texas em Austin. Segundo Alves, este ano o ISOJ superou as edições anteriores, em números, tendo recebido 300 inscrições, de 21 países, de cinco continentes. Ainda de acordo com o organizador, “este simpósio tem se tornado uma das conferências mais competitivas no campo de jornalismo online”. O simpósio compila, desde 2011, todas as suas comunicações em e-books e também em livros, feitos somente por encomenda.

Apesar de o simpósio ser encerrado no sábado, no domingo, acontece o 5º Colóquio Iberoamericano de Periodismo Digital, um evento complementar ao ISOJ, restrito a convidados oriundos da América Latina, Portugal e Espanha. Num email dirigido aos convidados, Rosental Alves explica que teve a ideia de criar esta conferencia complementar, falada em espanhol (e portuñol, brinca Alves) depois de perceber a grande afluência de jornalistas destes países, no simpósio. O propósito é promover um momento de diálogo e confraternização entre jornalistas ibero-americanos.

Why should news organizations care about location-based services?

Reference of this essay: Silva, Cláudia. “Why Should News Organizations Care about Location-Based Services?” Mapping Locative Media. April 16, 2012. Web. Date of Access.

 

Nowadays, innovation may be a product, which companies must be aware of and produce as any core product that the company offers (Briggs, 2012: p.126). As Mark Briggs states in his book “Entrepreneurial Journalism”, in the digital era every kind of business, including big and small news companies should innovate in order to survive in the competitive new digital scenario. In fact, news industries have embarked on a number of innovation projects, such as social networking, mobile media, games, multimedia feature and partnership with other media (Lowrey, W. 2011: p.65), even though this attempt to innovate is criticized by many scholars (Boczkowski, 2010; Domingo, 2008). For instance, Boczkowski argues that this attempt is “reactive” in a statement made that “quite often newspapers acted only after it seemed evident to key decision makers that relevant technical and social developments had reasonable chance of taking hold, rather than proactively trying to make advantage of them earlier in the game” (Boczkowski 2004, p. 48 quoted by Boczkowski, 2010, p.32). Regardless, innovation has become a crucial asset to the survival of the media industry (Domingo, D. & Schimtz, A. 2010). Much research has been done relating to technology as a source of innovation for news industries. (Boczkowski, P. 2010; Hollifield, C.Ann & Mierzjewska, Bozena I. 2006; Domingo& Schmitz, 2010.) In this sense, “technological innovation has always been a key aspect in the adaptation of journalism to new social and market trends, but it has seldom been the focus of research until the advent of online journalism” (Cottle and Ashton, 1999 quoted by Domigo& Schmitz, 2010. See also Paulussen et al. 2011). The idea of “innovation” has also been frequently surrounded by the concept of disruptive technologies. In the scope of journalism the word itself has been widely used in titles, headlines and articles. Dictionary.com defines the word “disruptive” as the cause of disruption, something that cause something to break into pieces. Not only is “disruptive” a word, it is also a concept that was developed by Professor Clayton Christensen of Harvard Business School (1997). Therefore, “disruptive technology” is a business concept which news industries and journalists must understand in order to be proactively innovative. Day & Shoemaker (2000, quoted by Mierzjewska, B., Hollifield, C.Ann, 2006) conceptualized technology as disruptive and non-disruptive arguing that organizations approach technology adoption and innovation management differently depending on the disruptive or non-disruptive potential of the technology or innovation in question. For Mierzjewska et al. (2006) “technology and innovation reflects the fact that the media are one of a handful of industries facing the emergence of potentially “disruptive technology”. Day&Shoemaker (2000, p.2 quoted by Mierzjewska et al. 2006) defines disruptive technologies as “science-based innovations that have the potential to create a new industry or transform and existing one”. “The Internet, HDTV, and interactive television devices are examples of types of communication technologies that, when they emerge have the potential to disrupt the underlying business models of existing sectors of media industry”. This illustrates the importance the term and how much the news industries should care about it. Unlike Day & Shoemaker, Christensen defines technologies as sustaining and disruptive. While sustaining technologies mean those technologies which “improve the performance of established products, along the dimensions of performance that mainstream customers in major markets have historically valued”, disruptive technologies “result in worse product performance, at least in the near-term”. (p. XV). Furthermore, the products based on disruptive technologies initially only satisfy a niche market segment, which have lower performance on dimensions relevant to the mainstream market segment but have higher performance on dimensions valued by remote or emerging markets. Besides, these products are “typically cheaper, simpler, smaller, and more convenient to use” (Christensen, 1997: xv). Christensen argues that because a disruptive technology initially only serves a small, low, margin market, it is ignored by incumbents that are serving more attractive segments. For the purpose of this essay, I aim to present some of main characteristics, definitions and backgrounds of location-based services with the concept of disruptive technologies in mind, and some cases of how this innovation has been applied to journalism.

1.Location-based services (LBS)

The definition of location-based services is simply technological and functional, being focused only in the function of delivering information according to the location of the device and user (see Gartner et al., 2007). For this essay, I am using the following definition of Chen (2010, p.1): “a location-based service (LBS) is an information service that can be accessed by mobile devices through a mobile network, and which exploit the location of the mobile device”. Location-based services (LBS) have been widely studied since 2000 in the field of mobile business and wireless infrastructure. At that time many applications based on cell phones’ physical location were expected to be “the saviour of wireless data services, with research companies valuing the LBS market at tens of billions”. The expectation was so high that some analysts and industry pundits proclaimed it the next “Killer app”, which means that the industry was expecting the increasing of sales because of LBS. After two years, few experts would claim that LBS had this power (Sweeting, C. 2005. p. 87), due to its slow the rate of adoption. After all, only few countries, such as Japan, had a vast majority of mobile phones with built-in GPS. Since then, LBS have been a niche, considered by some scholars a disruptive technology (Sweeting, C. 2005. p. 87; Evans, 2003: p 126). As disruptive technology, LBS are now promoted as the “first time that peoples’ physical locations can be used as data for applications”, which has the potential to affect our daily lives and the way we receive and exchange information. In 2007, LBS were legitimate as a growing new and interdisciplinary field of research with the releasing of the first edition of a journal of location-based services concurrent with the start of the first symposium on LBS which took place in China. In this sense, one can say that 2007 was a key year for LBS, since the release of smartphones, such as iPhone, mobile high-speed Internet connectivity through 3G and WiFi also brought new possibilities to the industry. After all, these technologies enable users to continuously capture, create, upload and share geo-referenced content (Bilandzic, M. & Foth, M. 2011. p. 66). For instance, Gowalla, one of the first social networks based on location, was also launched in 2007.

1.1. Locative Media

Location-based services has been appropriated and explored in creative ways by artists, journalists, photographers and news organizations. In this sense, in 2003, Karlis Kalnis proposed the term locative media to differentiate the creative usage of location-based services from the institutional use of it (Lemos, 2007, p.2). Kalnis and Tuters in 2003 selected “locative media” as a title for an international workshop of artists and researches (International Workshop ‘Locative Media’, “aiming to explore how wireless and location-based networking affects peoples’s notions of space and social organisation within space” (Bilandzic, M. & Foth, M. 2011). After this workshop, the term defines “media that blurred the barrier between the physical and the virtual world, in particular mobile media that augments people’s experiences in real places through relevant geo-tagged information from the Internet (Espinoza et al., 2001; Kjelskov and Paay, 2005; Lancaster University, 1999; Proboscis, 2003 quoted by Bilandzic, M. & Foth, M. 2011). Lemos (2011) defines Locative Media as a set of technologies and process of info-communication which content is tied to a specific location. The advent of GPS enable phones is also referred as the base of this term (Bilandzic, M. & Foth, M. 2011).

2.LBS and Social Media

The most successful use of LBS has been in the field of social media. Researchers have been referring to this new use of social media as location-sharing systems/applications. Cranshaw et al. (2011) categorizes location sharing applications as purpose-driven, where people explicitly request another person’s current location” and “social –driven, where people broadcast their location to ‘friends’ in their social networks. In this sense, it is important to note that LBS have been categorized also as a service enabled by mobile computing (see Evans, 2003; Canali et al., 2009; Hansen et al, 2011). Goggin (2011) defines location sharing applications as “mobile social software”. For this author, those services represent two important shifts – from desktop to mobile computing, and from individual to social software. These applications make possible informal contact among people in the same proximity, whether friends, friends of friends, strangers or colleagues capitalizing on serendipity (Eagle 2004; Eagle & Pentland 2005 quoted by Goggin 2011, p. 118). One of the first mobile social software programs was the Japanese Lovegety, released in 1998, as an oval device with three buttons which the user sets according to the kind of activity she or he has in mind: “talk”, “Karaoke” and “get2”. When the holder selected a mode, the device searched for Lovegety holders of the opposite sex in a five meter radius (Goggin, 2011, p. 118). In addition, according to Goggin (2011) the first mobile social software in the US was Dodgeball, released in 2000, which allowed a user to broadcast her or his information to others in their location, trough an early WAP (Wireless Application Protocol) application. Even before the launch of smartphones, these applications represented a trend. “Dodgeball was but one of many mobile social social software applications that were to follow (ibid: p.119). However, at this stage many of the enterprises and applications spearheading mobile social software have not survived. Dodgeball was the predecessor to Foursquare, the location-sharing system that was launched in 2009 and currently has 15 million of users in the US and abroad (Scarafile, 2012).

3.LBS and Journalism

With the increasing diffusion of GPS and Internet-enabled smartphones, many location-based services are being implemented by entrepreneurs. In the field of journalism, mainstream news organizations have been keeping an eye on location-based experiments. Location has been seen as a trend and evokes the classical idea of the five W’s, in which “where” from the fourth position becomes the first W (Briggs, 2012). The New York Times, The Financial Times and The wall Street Journal and Canada’s Postmedia Network are among the early adopters of this service (Currie, 2011. p.1) experimenting with Foursquare by distributing news and seeking to engage readers. According to Currie, these newspapers have been part of a growing number of news outlets trying to crack the triumvirate of journalism, location, and social media. For this author, these three elements should be a natural fit: News organizations produce a stream of content filled with geographic addresses. Mobile phone users are increasingly buying smartphones and using them to access news and furthermore, news consumption is increasingly becoming a shared social experience. On this direction, research in location-based news services also has emerged (see Chen, Chih-Ming. 2010). Chen (2010) states the location- based services (LBS) on mobile devices can convey location related information to individual users, thus helping users to obtain helpful and adaptative information, which can facilitate individual decision-making. There are three ways of experimenting with location-based news. The first is through social networks based on location, such as Foursquare. Journalists have noted that Foursquare can be an important tool for news organizations in many different ways: 1)Promise of targeting news distribution; 2) Finding on-the-scene human sources to interview during breaking news events; 3) Finding story ideas and building social capital with users (Snow & Lavrusik, 2010; Jenkins, 2010; Bradshaw, 2010 quoted by Currie, 2011). Second, by through native mobile apps which are focusing on location-based news. Some examples of location-based news apps are (1) Meporter, (2) Tap in Bay Area and (3) hereMe!. (1) Meporter describes their service as a location-based news app that enables the user to write, photography, and videotape his/her local news as it breaks. Readers can share location, comment on stories and check in as eyewitnesses. To validate the contributions, Meporter allows posting local news and readers to post comments, only if they are on location. Meporter has news categories: Announcements, Business, Classifieds, Crime, Events, Health, LifeStyle, NightLife, News, Op-Ed, News, Politics, Estate, Science, Sports, Tech, Traffic, Travel, and Weather. The app allows you to create a Meporter profile that others can view. While anyone online can follow your stories, only people in your neighbourhood can comment on your breaking news. The app was released in May 2011 . (2) Tap in Bay Area is an app iPad of hyperlocal journalism in the San Francisco Bay Area. Besides having multimedia producers, users can contribute reviews, recommendations and share. The app is not free but has a free trial version. Applying gamification to its business model, users can earn points for writing comments, sharing content, clicking on Ads or taking actions that help improve the community. Users who earn enough points could redeem them for free access or other rewards. The app was released in July 2011 . 3) hereMe! also describes its service as location-based, story-telling, grassroots reporter’s tool, designed for local micro-reporting that complements an increasingly social media landscape. Their aim is making the consumer a news producer. In this sense, the user/reporter can produce location-based stories by adding reports with attached video, audio, picture, URLs and #tags. The users can manage their account through a profile. It is possible to sign in through Facebook. Another way of engaging with this service is using location-based feeds to view and filter reports and receive alerts when new reports or replies are filed. A feed, in this sense, is defined by this service as regions of interest by individual users (personal feeds) or by the community (featured, public feeds). Feed management is intuitive and map-based. By pinching to zoom in or out the users can adjust the size of their interest. Finally, the last is through filtering, as GoogleNews is doing with “News near your”. According to the official blog of GoogleNews, the service was released in May 2011. “News near your” is a local section of Google News for mobile devices, which allows the users to find local news on their smartphones, according to their location.

4. Discussion

At the beginning of this essay, innovation and its importance to news organizations and how disruptive technologies are related to that was discussed. Location-based services have become a pervasive technology and have a high potential of disruption, because as our form of exchanging information in public spaces and in urban places changes, demand will increase for information “in loco”, to a specific location. In the US, location-based social networks are still a niche, since only 5% of Americans use location-based apps. On the other hand, GPS, the technology which has been enabling LBS so far, is built into, almost everyone nowadays. However, another technology which enables location-based service is NFC (Near Field Communication) which is built into some Android phones. NFC is as emerging technology for mobile interaction with everyday objects. It is a wireless technology for exchanging data over short distances, similar to Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) but targeted at mobile devices. The technology can store digital data on passive tags that can be attached to almost arbitrary objects. Users can retrieve data from a tag by touching it with a reading device, e.g. a mobile phone, or by holding them closely together. The simple, touch-like interaction between NFC-enabled mobile devices, tags readers or smartcards and can facilitate mobile interaction with tagged objects, associated digital information and services in different ways: NFC-tags can be used as physical hyperlinks that reduce complex interactions to touching a single tag, e.g. to open a website in a mobile browser (Broll et al., 2011. p 205). NFC has been used to enhance mobile payment, ticketing or information retrieval (ibid). NFC has been used also to enhance and validate location-sharing applications, such as Foursquare (Kim, 2012; see Broll et al., 2010). Turning our eyes to the horizon and thinking about journalism, there are more ways to think about how news organizations could use NFC to enhance news consumption or newsgathering, for instance: 1) If used by location-sharing applications, news organizations can take advantage of it and can tag information about specific locations or events, using the tags also to ads. 2) It can be used to tag others’ information about places and events; 3) News organizations can embed tags to physical newspapers, sending readers additional information or ads. 4) Newspapers can provide the possibility of buying tickets to cultural events, producing revenue through partnership with credit card companies. It is important to note that NFC is still emerging and has some drawbacks, including the fact that only few Android phones support the technology, illustrating the slow spread of this technology, at least in the U.S. The ABI Research Company forecasts that by this year that the technology will be used not only for payments but also to access information in smart devices. It is clear that this forecast is not happening rapidly yet. This year, a digital wallet enabled by NFC phones will be launched in Austin. It will be good opportunity to see how the technology works and how people will use it.

Reference of this essay: Silva, Cláudia. “Why Should News Organizations Care about Location-Based Services?” Mapping Locative Media. April 16, 2012. Web. Date of Access.

 

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