Friday Wrap #21: Bring Your Own Apps, Yelp’s badge of shame, AOL reimagines email, the new J-school2012-10-19
(c) Can Stock PhotoThe weekend is upon us—but not before we wrap up the digital and social news of the week of interest to communicators. For the full list of items from which I draw these stories, dive into my link blog at LinksFromShel.tumblr.com.
Employees embrace the Bring Your Own Apps movement
If workers are bringing their own mobile devices to work—a reflection of the fact that their personal technology is usually better than the devices they get from their employers—then it makes just as much sense that they’ll download the apps that will help them be more efficient on the job. Now, according to The Telegraph, Citrix is reporting that more than 90 percent of organizations in the UK are seeing employees “downloading their own apps for business use with almost two-thirds of these companies concerned about unmanaged app usage in the workpalce and the effects it has on the privacy of that organisation’s data.” Being concerned is fine. Finding a solution that accommodates the inexorable move toward consumerized technology is vital, since the solutions employees find are often superior to the technologies the IT department has deployed.
Badge of shame for fake reviews on Yelp
It should come as no surprise that some companies boost their Yelp presence by paying people to write good reviews. The practice has undermined Yelp’s credibility, so the review site has found an interesting way to try to deal with it. If Yelp catches fake reviews on your site, you’ll find a “consumer alert” on your profile page that will stay there for three months. Yelp is pulling no punches with the badge of shame (as The New York Times calls it: “We caught someone red-handed trying to buy reviews for this business.” Visitors will also be able to read the emails that solicited the fake reviews. The first eight companies to be outed by Yelp—caught in a digital sting operation—found the notices on their profiles yesterday. They include a moving company and two repair shops, among others.
AOL attempts a comeback with reimagined email
Email isn’t going anywhere—there’s plenty of data to support its rock-solid place in the pantheon of communication technologies—but at 40-plus-years-old, it’s creaky, less effective than social channels at communicating, and responsible for dramatic productivity losses as information employees need is locked away in the black hole of others’ in-boxes. Is AOL poised to come to email’s rescue with a thorougly reimagined approacyh called Alto? Launched quietly yesterday, Alto is “a web-based client that looks like a mashup of Twitter and Pinterest, with incoming mail showing up in a vertical feed along the left side of the page,” writes Adam Bluestein in FastCompany. “Abutting it is a thin column of icons for basic functions (compose a message, find a contact). The right two-thirds of the window is dominated by rows of tiles called ‘stacks.’ These are the source of the platform’s unique look, as well as its innovative functionality.”
Alto director Joshua Ramirez calls the approach “post-foldering,” with the stacks you create updating dynamically and working continuously, sorting your email as it arrives into five default groupings: daily deals, social notifications, retail, photos, and attachments, mirroring the most common categories of email AOL account-holders receive. The service also “uses a visual search to display the content being delivered: Click on the photos or attachments stack and you get an instant array of thumbnails displaying its contents—no searching or opening of messages required.” Users can also create their own custom stacks associated with sender names, domains or keywords. Alto is in limited preview, but you can request an invitation here.
University of Toronto shifts J-school approach to training freelancers
I’ve done some work advising journalism schools about the future of journalism and what they need to be teaching aspiring journalists. The Nieman Journalism Lab has focused on where journalism is headed in a series of articles, looking at various approaches. One of the most interesting comes out of the university of Toronto, which believes “the world now belongs to freelancers.” The Fellowship in Global Journalism “deliberately recruits subject-matter experts—academics and professionals—and teaches them to break news in their own disciplines for media around the world,” writes Robert Steiner, the program’s director, in the Nieman Lab Blog. “Like medical students, our Fellows spend only a couple of hours a day in class. They spend most of their time working their own beats as stringers for major media; those are our so-called teaching hospitals.” The Fellows pitch, report and file to media outlets including The Globe and Mail, The Toronto Star, The Dallas Morning News, The National posts, CBC News and Tomson Reuters Foundation’s Trust.org. There are no grades; either their stories run or not. There is also no degree, since the Fellows don’t actually need one, given their areas of expertise are in sometehing other than journalism. Given the importance of brand journalism to organizations, a similar approach is probably a good idea for organizations seeking to make and distribute their own news. When will we see a journalism program for in-house professionals?
Circa rethinks breaking news
The CNN news app is the app I open more frequently than any other. When faced with a previously unusable moment, I most often check to see if there’s any breaking news. (It’s a lingering habit from my days as a journalist, even though it has been more than 35 years since I worked in a newsroom.) But the CNN app—like virtually every other news app—still presents news just as a newspaper would, shrunk to fit on a mobile screen. Circa, which launched Monday for the iPhone, aims to change that. In an All Things D piece, Eric Johnson writes, “The editorial staff has completely ditched the idea of reported articles as we know them. Instead, their team of 12 writers in the U.S., U.K. and China aggregate small bits of information about the day’s top happenings as they come out of various sources.” These “atomic unites of news” are fitted into original stories. “Users swipe through them one-by-one, and learn at least one new thing from each card they read.” Circa, says Johnson, is to a news magazine what Angry Birds is to World of Warcraft, “an elegant attempt to connect with our short attention spans on the go.” There’s no word on when the far larger community of Android users will be able to get their hands on the app.
Big “Big Data” announcements
It’s a phrase you can’t escape these days. Big Data is a simple concept, but one I haven’t heard mentioned once at any recent communications conferences. That’s too bad, since communicators can benefit from understanding and employing Big Data as much as any other part of the business—if not more. (I’m working on a full post about big data for communicators.) The news from this field is coming fast and furious. ZDNet reported on multiple announcements in a single article.
From Gartner and IBM come reports worth reading. Gartner’s offers a typical Gartner-like projection: Big Data will drive $28 billion in IT spending globally this year and $34 billion next year. In four years, companies will be pouring $232 billion into Big Data, and by the beginning of the next decade, it will be “a completely mainstream and embedded technology, rather than the standalone, somewhat fetishized category that it is today,” writes Andrew Brust. The study from the IBM Institute for Business Value and the Said Business School at the University of Oxford could serve as a serviceable introduction to Big Data for communicators and others, covering a definition, the top four Big Data data sources (transactions, log data, events and emails), the top five Big Data capabilities (reporting, data mining, data visualization, predictive modeling and optmization), and other results of a survey of business and IT professionals from 95 countries. Get the report here.