News: from medium to platform

For the first time ever, US consumers spent more time on applications than watching TV, according to Flurry Analytics, a mobile analytics company owned by Yahoo.

“After putting the desktop web in their rear view mirror, apps now reign supreme as the top media channel in the United States, even without the help of the mobile browser,” said Simon Khalaf, Flurry senior vice president for Product & Engineering, Publisher Products.

Writing “The cable industry faces the perfect storm: apps, app stores and apple,” in the company’s blog last Sept. 10, Khalaf said “fears surrounding the long-term prospects of the cable industry were well warranted.” 

Gone mobile

ATTENTION HOG. Mobile devices have become the primary screens of people, studies have shown.

Attention “most valuable currency”

In the second quarter of 2015, US consumers spent 198 minutes in apps daily compared to just 168 minutes on TV. Flurry pointed out that the 198 minutes is just on apps and don’t count the use of phone browsers. Including that, the average US consumer spends three hours and 40 minutes every day on mobile devices.

That amount of attention upends industries.

In today’s media environment, “attention has become the most valuable currency,” Mathew Ingram wrote in Fortune.

“The media economy used to be all about monetizing a handful of content channels, which were controlled by a handful of major media platforms like TV networks and newspapers. Now, the economy has shifted from being supply-based to being demand-based, and attention is the main currency,” the Time article said.

In the past, people depended on a medium for information and entertainment. There was no other way to know about things and events than through news and TV programs offered by large, mainstream media organizations like newspapers, radio and TV stations. We lived news vicariously through intrepid reporters.

Social networks as info platform

The Internet, however, has spawned global communities like Facebook and Twitter where people share information with their contacts.

These social networks, in turn, have become a platform where people can report about things to their own community of friends and contacts. They are not doing actual journalism, which entails a process of verification and assessment, but the postings, no matter how self-indulgent or cute some may be, have information value. We learn about things, get alerted to news by the people we know.

Today, the media environment has, to use an already abused word, been disrupted. We’ve moved away from needing a “medium” to co-existing on an information platform or various platforms that are centered on mobile. In these platforms, the work of professional media is just one of the streams we consume every minute. It is a valuable and informative stream, yes, but still just one of many. Our shift to much more open platforms has allowed a new generation of media companies to build niche audiences, an erstwhile expensive and prohibitive proposition before tech took over the world.


This new media environment fosters collaboration, which is something startups are good at and that’s how they’ve come to dominate our world. Mainstream media companies, however, are used to a world where they were the monopoly if not dominant businesses. Many still see themselves as gatekeepers instead of the guides in this cacophonous media environment that they can be.

Today, they are facing dire and existential challenges. But by making collaboration as much a part of its DNA as verification is to its newsroom character, traditional media companies can do well in today’s wildly-shifting technology world.

The post News: from medium to platform appeared first on Leon Kilat : The Tech Experiments.

Have phone, will travel: smartphones and the modern traveler

Smartphones are used extensively throughout the travel process – from getting inspiration on where to go, to planning, booking, actual traveling and even after the trip, according to a study by Google Inc. and Ipsos Media CT. The study, “The 2014 Traveler’s Road to Decision,” is an update to a similar research in 2013 and was released last year.

Mobile is critical at all stages of travel and influences booking decisions, the study said.

According to the study, 67 percent of leisure travelers use smartphones at all stages, 31 percent for getting trip inspiration, 27 percent for research, 14 percent for booking, 50 percent for the actual traveling and 37 percent for post-traveling.

Among business travelers, smartphone use in travel is higher at 78 percent at any phase, 39 percent for travel inspirations, 36 percent for research, 28 percent for purchase and booking, 54 percent for traveling and 42 percent for post-traveling.

The study also showed that most travelers – 65 percent of leisure and 69 percent of business travelers – turn to the web early in the travel process, saying they “begin researching online before they decided where or how they want to travel.”

Travel information on mobile

RELYING ON MOBILE. Travelers now depend on smartphones for information, a study by Google said. (Creative Commons photo by Andrew Stawarz)

Eighty-three percent of travelers rely on social networks and video sites like YouTube for travel inspiration while 61 percent use search engines and 42 percent travel review sites and apps.

The study said smartphones are used for travel inspiration in “snacking moments” before the actual planning. These happen in “spare moments such as when waiting and commuting” at 69 percent and while doing other activities such as watching TV and eating, at 56 percent. Among affluent travelers, it is even higher: with 77 percent reporting using smartphones for travel inspirations in spare moments.

In planning for the trip, the Internet is the top source – 74 percent for leisure travelers and 77 percent for business travelers. Way down the list are brochures, travel agents, books, magazines and newspapers. Listed as top planning sources are search engines, which as the top choice of leisure travelers, and hotel sites and apps, the top choice of business travelers.

Most travelers are also undecided on brand and unclear about differences among brands, indicating an opportunity for companies that are able to brand themselves well on digital and mobile.

The study also found that poor mobile experience forced travelers to move elsewhere, giving a negative impact on the brand with 20 percent using a competitor’s website, 15 percent complaining on social media, 13 percent deciding to stop using the brand and 19 percent telling friends and family about it.

Once they are at their destinations, travelers rely heavily on mobile to decide on things, with the majority using search engines via their smartphones. This finding, coupled with Google’s recent algorithm change to make mobile-friendliness a ranking signal for search results, should make mobile the primary consideration in building websites of travel-related properties.

As with any industry, digital – especially mobile – has taken over travel. This will lead to a shakeup that will threaten the incumbents who aren’t able to deal with the changes well.

The post Have phone, will travel: smartphones and the modern traveler appeared first on Leon Kilat : The Tech Experiments.

Formatting articles for apps: Markdown to the rescue

This week, our startup updated the official guide to the International Eucharistic Congress 2016 that will be held in Cebu this January. The update contained new information including the complete schedule, profile of speakers as well as a News sub-section that will contain updates leading to and during the actual event.

Among the new information that went into the update was the basic text of the congress or the “Theological and Pastoral Reflections in Preparation for the 51st International Eucharistic Congress.” It is a lengthy treatise on the Eucharist and the Church’s mission.

The material we had to work on and format for the app was a 53-page PDF document with 154 footnotes.

Stackedit Markdown

MARKING UP WITH MARKDOWN. Using StackEdit to format documents using Markdown for use in our IEC 2016 mobile app.

When we format static articles for inclusion into our apps, we use Markdown. The markup language is so easy to use it speeds up the coding of documents. Before we transitioned to Markdown, we used to manually code documents using HTML and CSS. For shorter articles, this was fine. But it was tedious for longer documents.

With Markdown, it took us less than an hour to prepare the IEC basic text for inclusion into the app. What took time was manually coping the text from the PDF file.

For Markdown formatting, our current tool is Stackedit. The online service offers excellent Markdown syntax support with offline storage as well as options to synchronize with your Dropbox and Google Drive accounts.

While content management systems make it so easy to publish stories and format text, a basic HTML and CSS knowledge will go a long way in giving a journalist an edge professionally. Knowing Markdown will sharpen that edge.

The post Formatting articles for apps: Markdown to the rescue appeared first on Leon Kilat : The Tech Experiments.

Auto-update convenience: WordPress upgrades itself to fix critical vulnerability

After yesterday’s upgrading of key WordPress plugins to fix a cross site scripting vulnerability, the WordPress team released version 4.1.2, which it described as a critical security release.

“WordPress versions 4.1.1 and earlier are affected by a critical cross-site scripting vulnerability, which could enable anonymous users to compromise a site,” the WordPress team said in a blog post announcing the release. The release also fixed 3 other security issues including an SQL injection vulnerability in some plugins.

I got the notification of the new release at past midnight. Years back, that would have meant that I’d need to stay up very late, download the latest release, upload the files to the server and perform the upgrade for each of the site I’m running.

Now it’s automatic.

WordPress updates

AUTOMATIC UPDATES. The email notification I got last night that the WordPress running one of my sites has automatically updated to the latest security release – without any trigger or interventions from me.

Background update

Apart from being easy to set up and use, the background update system of WordPress is one of its best features. Manual updating of content management systems is tedious and if you run multiple websites, it can be frustrating.

With background and auto updating, WordPress makes sure that its users (at least those whose sites have been set up for it) always have the latest release and the corresponding security fixes that come with it.

Previously, I would have gotten the release notification from an alert triggered via RSS. Last night, I knew about version 4.1.2 after getting notified that one of my sites was already upgraded to the new release.

Other CMSes like Drupal, for example, not only do not have auto-updating but upgrading them can be so complicated and wearisome. Drupal upgrades, for example, can break features and introduce incompatibilities between major version updates. Remember CCK?

The post Auto-update convenience: WordPress upgrades itself to fix critical vulnerability appeared first on Leon Kilat : The Tech Experiments.

WordPress security alert: vulnerability in multiple plugins; time to update

Do you use WordPress to run your site or blog? You better head off to your dashboard to check for plugin updates. Now.

A cross site scripting vulnerability has been spotted in several WordPress plugins and themes, including popular ones like Jetpack, WordPress SEO, Google Analytics, All in one SEO, Gravity Forms, among others.

“The vulnerability Sucuri discovered would allow an attacker to send a WordPress user with administrative rights a link which could execute malicious JavaScript,” Jetpack said in a blog post announcing an update to its plugin

Yoast has also released an update to its plugins, which are among the top used extensions in WordPress, to address the vulnerability.

WordPress InfiniteWP

MUST-INSTALL TOOL. InfiniteWP allows you to manage multiple WordPress sites without having to log into each one of them.

Why you should use InfiniteWP

It isn’t enough to perform available updates, WordPress admins need to monitor security announcements in the coming days because more plugins need to release new versions. Sucuri said they only scanned the top 300 to 400 plugins for the vulnerability.

If you run multiple WordPress websites, manually keeping up with and installing updates can be time-consuming and tedious.

You can, however, simplify the process by using a tool called InfiniteWP. It is a system that you install to centralize management of WordPress websites. From your InfiniteWP dashboard, you can upgrade the core WordPress, its plugins and themes of all your sites without having to log into each one of them.

InfiniteWP also allows you to back up the database and files of your WordPress sites.

I’ve been using InfiniteWP for some time now and it has saved me a lot of time in managing the WordPress installations that I run.

If you also manage multiple WordPress sites, there’s no question about it: you should use InfinteWP.

The post WordPress security alert: vulnerability in multiple plugins; time to update appeared first on Leon Kilat : The Tech Experiments.