Wednesday, March 28, 2007
Tuesday, March 27, 2007
This shows how innovation can lead to sucess during hard times such as when the "bubble" burst.
Monday, March 26, 2007
This is one innovation, I believe, that would help people living in rural or far flung areas in the developing or under-developed countries.
This is one innovation in the field of Biologically inspired robotics that would help lead to a better understanding of biological systems. I talked to one of the creator of this robot through e-mails and got some detailed information like the autonomy of the robot etc.
Salamander Robot story:
Tuesday, March 20, 2007
So, is there anything interesting in the blog post from an innovation journalism perspective? Well, switching from PC to mobile phones is not really anything new. But it is hopefully interesting to know a little about the general game market, as well as to read about the driving forces behind a business idea completely different from the market giants': To give away popular games for free.
Monday, March 19, 2007
It started out with an article I wrote a week and a half ago about how HP, NASA and UC Santa Cruz will conduct research together, not least when it comes to nanotechnology. After that article was published I received an e-mail from some PR-people who invited me to the IT Security Entrepreneurs’ Forum at Stanford later that week since I seemed “interested in cooperation between private companies and the government”. I didn’t have the time to go, but got two interviews on phone with a former fighter pilot who now develops flight simulators and a former Secret Service agent.
The article was supposed to run the same day as the conference. Then I got the information that the fighter pilot suddenly got called back to the east coast for some reason and wouldn’t speak at the conference as planned.
Since the better part of the article was focused on him, the whole story was stopped. I had to rewrite some parts of it but finally the article turned up in today’s paper.
Learnings for an injo reporter? Well, if you can, always try to have a back-up interview if you for some reason can’t publish your first interview. And listen when you get a call from some PR-people. Sometimes that actually can lead to a story.
Saturday, March 17, 2007
It was bound to happen – Viacom is suing Google for a billion dollars for hosting uploaded clips of their stuff on Youtube. The prelude occured only a few weeks ago, when a group of newspapers in Belgium won a court case in Brussels against the search giant, barring Google from re-publishing any snippets of their news on the search engine. Google is now in danger of becoming a main target for the struggling main stream media.
The news industry has been facing tough times for a several years now, and it is steadily getting worse, as Craig’s list and other web companies are taking over ads that have been the backbone of the news industry for over a century. The foundations of the fourth estate are shaking, well respected newspapers are downsizing or being sold off. No more Mr Nice Guy, as the saying goes, Hollywood-style. The victory in the Belgium court raises hopes among traditional media houses that pay-back time may be coming, and their lawyers are most probably sharpening their knives.
This can lead to a very very bad development for us all, I’ll tell you why.
A lot of people want your attention, but it’s limited. The more competition for your attention, the more it’s worth. The news industry are “attention workers”: they catch your attention on a page by putting catchy stories on it, then sell parts of the page to people who are willing to pay for getting your attention diverted to their own stories. That’s ads. It was working well for 150 years. Enter the Internet.
In the beginning, many in the news industry thought it was a good thing to be visible on Google search, because it directed attention to their news stories on the web. Google was a young company, smaller than the news giants. They decided to stay out of content production, perhaps they thought this would keep them away from competing with the news industry. But the news industry does not sell stories, they pay for stories. They sell ads. Google sells ads, too. Google is now earning better than the news industry.
OK, they are not direct competitors to the news industry. Instead they are rapidly becoming the “alien invasion”, and that is not necessarily a more favored status.
Tourist guides like kids to direct customers to them, and they don’t mind if the kids get some pennies from the tourists while doing it. Replace the kids with grownups, give them more contact with the tourists than the guides have, and let them earn more than the guides. Now the guides will be less happy, they might even feel exploited. This is what is happening between Google and the news industry.
The news industry is paying for making stories, but is having a tough time selling ads. Google is not paying for making stories, and is selling ads like crazy. “Foul play”, says the news industry. “The stories are ours. If you sell ads on links to our stories, the ad revenues are ours, too”. Now it has reached the court rooms, and the battle might be long and bitter, like with the music industry and the Internet.
That will be too bad, because there is a fundamental common interest between the news industry and Google that can bring them to the same side of the table: both want to maximize the value of your attention, because this is the source of their income. They are only lacking a way to work together on it, and don’t have a working way to split the costs and revenues.
The larger part of the news industry does not know how to earn big on the Internet. Most of them don’t have the resources, the mindset or the traditions to innovate. For them, news is a commodity, innovation is a threat. Google is all about innovation and Internet, and they are earning more money on it all the time. No big match there at this time.
The old fashioned news industry has lawyers. So does Google. Match! It’s a big risk it’s going to end up in the court rooms. Once the parties dig into the trenches, people on both sides will be restricted from working together on a constructive future. It will be war between the main stream news and the web, like it was with the music industry.
In order to spend human time and resources on building value, not destroying it, the following is required: The news industry needs to become innovative and find other business models than paper. It will both provide them with a future and will save scores of trees from the axe. Google needs to realize that they are the big guys now, and that they will be put to blame by the echelons of society for the demise of the business of journalism, whether it is reasonable or not. High class content is good for their business, why not see what they can do for supporting its existence?
There are two types of deals that Google and the news industry can focus on. The first type is a fictitious zero-sum game, with endless fights in court rooms over how to split the pie, where the deal might even be obsolete by the time it hits the street. The other type is where the parties agree to work together on finding new ways of doing pies, or even doing other things than pies that might taste even better.
Isn’t it obvious what the choice ought to be?
David Nordfors is Senior Research Scholar at Stanford. He coined the concept of Innovation Journalism in 2003 and founded and leads the Innovation Journalism Program run by Stanford and VINNOVA. He is a columnist and former writer and editor for the computer press. As a journalist, he initiated and headed in 1993 the first symposium about the Internet to be held by the Swedish Parliament. David Nordfors has a Ph.D. in molecular quantum physics from the Uppsala University in Sweden.
Wednesday, March 14, 2007
Thursday, March 8, 2007
I had never heard Earthanols name before and after three extremely stupid questions I told the CEO I’d call him back later. I found some background information about the company with the kind help of Google and could make a short interview.
The story is about a start-up company which is planning to produce ethanol from cheese industry waste. It’s not totally new technology, for example there’s a company in Finland developing that kind of technology. But an important angle is that instead of food they use waste to produce ethanol. It is well known that if we want to drive cars with only ethanol, we have to stop eating.
Injo? Well, there is a future aspect in the story and a researchers opinion if Earthanols work is significant to ethanol industry. Had there been more time, I would have made a deeper analysis.
I tried to find some breaking news from the toy industry, but didn’t really find any. From an InJo perspective, it would maybe have been a good idea to talk to the end user – the kids. But since I didn’t find any at the exhibition, I just mentioned about that idea in the article. Therefore, I don’t consider the article to be a “real” InJo article.
Two days after the visit, my edited article was posted at the IEEE web site. A few days later, the story was picked up by Slashdot, which gave the Spectrum website another couple of thousand hits – enough to make my article the third most popular one on the website since the beginning of the year. That was fun :-)
Tuesday, March 6, 2007
When I got hold of the whole survey it was dated early December last year and I wasn't sure if it was really news worthy. A couple of phone calls later, it turned out that the report was indeed written in December, but Forrester hadn't gone public with it until now.
When the article was ready, Al wanted it to be less article-like and more blog-like, so I (and, well, he too, I have to admit) worked with the text so that the tone would be more catchy and better fit in with the rest of the pieces in the Chronicles Techblog (which also runs in the paper).
So what initially should have been an article turned out to be a blog and then transformed into an article in the paper the next day: I blog, therefore I am.
Boston Globe link: