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Mobile/Local Assignment

We are partnering with Chicago Public Media for our Mobile Strategy Unit.

CPM has a mobile app for their station and web content–more information is available here.

This app is focused on the entire CPM brand, but they have lots of news and culture shows that are really brands of their own, most of them have no mobile presence separate from the CPM app. That’s a missed opportunity.

One that does is This American Life, whose mobile apps for Android and iPhone were built by the Public Radio Exchange.

We’re going to be proposing a mobile strategy for the CPM show Worldview. Please familiarize yourself with the show—be prepared to talk about what you heard next week.

In addition, we’re going to start the design process for these mobile prototypes by talking with potential users of the application about how they view the world, how they think about the intersection of local and global, how they collect and process information, etc. The key thing is to gain enough information from your interviews and observations to have a good sense of understanding of these users.

1. You need to talk with six people about the issues above. Collect these interviews and post them to the comments of this entry NO LATER THAN MONDAY NIGHT.

2. Looking at the entire class’s interviews, you need to come up with five insights that will help to define problems that next week you will work in small groups to brainstorm solutions for.

3. Bring those insights to class and be prepared to share them.

Categories: Assignments
  1. April 3, 2011 at 9:29 pm

    I used the website “SurveyMonkey” to reach out to more people to get more insight, and I was able to get 16 people to answer questions that related more to a mobile app’s interface, ease of access, and usefulness. From my results, I found the following:

    1. The dominant mobile device used to access the Internet was smartphones (11 people). 1 person accesses the Internet through a non-smart phone, and 4 people use an iPod Touch. No one in the group used an iPad or Android Tablet.

    2. From the 11 people with smartphones, 3 had iPhones, 4 had Android Devices, 1 had a Nokia N900, 1 had a Blackberry Storm, 1 had an AT&T Pantech, and 1 had an HTC HD2 Windows Phone (meaning yes, there actually are people that use Windows Phones)

    3. 15 people had mobile devices that could run apps, and only person did not.

    4. Social Networking Apps were the most popular apps used by the group, followed by games, personalization apps (ringtones/wallpapers), and music apps (such as Pandora Radio). Book applications (Such as Google Books) were only used by 1 person, and second to last was News apps, used by only 2 people.

    5. The specific group of apps used the most by the group were Social Networking apps (selected by 8 people). 6 people said games were the apps used the most on their device, and 1 person selected photography as their most used group of apps.

    6. A majority of the group preferred to just check their apps quickly and move on. Some said that they spend more time with an app if they are on the train heading home because it is the only time when they can really sit there with an app. 4 people said specifically that they liked spending more time with their apps (On a side note, the Windows Phone user said the main reason they stay on their apps a lot is because of the lack of variety)

    7. The biggest thing for users is how easy an application is to use. A majority of the group wants their apps to be easy to navigate and easy to be productive (For example, the Facebook app currently does not allow you to make comments on Event walls.) Some people said that apps should have quick loading times and be “straight and to the point”. Other features included actually being compatible with the phone (avoiding the iPhone or Android-only exclusivity) and not taking up too much memory.

  2. Eric Witt
    April 4, 2011 at 3:39 pm

    There are some quotes to peruse here and my general feeling through all the talks I conducted at the end.

    Most useful quotes from my series of talks:
    DW: The use of mobile technology in the news medium is necessary today in order for the press to compete; speed is everything, and mobile technology conveniently allows the instant publication of information. There is naturally a direct relationship between speed of publication and tendency to make mistakes.
    RC: There are thousands of apps and others things one can waste their time on 24/7 that have no productive value and can distract the masses from things that really matter.
    CW: Uses CNN and huffington Post apps. Aside from home page, he peruses international and business. Local news is less important than International. Things like twitter have been put to good use. With expansive mobile technology controlled press is trumped because people’s experiences can be aggregated. Though with the new possibility of many to relay news, credibility is lost in certain respects.
    MT: media is our connection with this collective. It provides us the global world view, and it can fit in our pocket. When I collect data about the world I start by finding what I deem to be reliable sources. As far as the news is concerned a few news networks I’ve watched on TV have already caught my attention enough for me to believe they are reliable and those are usually the main sources I use. Otherwise I just search Google if looking for a specific event and the first link I find usually satisfies me and I feel no need to go any further. If researching or intending to learn a general concept I will use as many links as I see that are relevant because some may contain the information I need and some may not, or some I may not understand, some may be easier to read. Also this provides a greater perspective of the situation by reviewing multiple perspectives.
    CH: The use of mobile technology in the news medium is necessary today in order for the press to compete; speed is everything, and mobile technology conveniently allows the instant publication of information. It is of course necessary here that strict guidelines of journalistic integrity be followed in order to avoid hasty conclusions and general misinformation on situations which are still developing; I see this becoming an issue in the future.

    In my search I found people believe local news reliant on global. This is because of what happens when they come together: when local adds global perspective, it’s more useful. The connection has to be specific for local though. But the bridge is important. Mobile phones need to be the connector, essentially.

  3. April 5, 2011 at 8:19 pm

    When choosing people to interview I made sure to only contact those who had smart phones that support apps. From my interviews I learned the following:

    1. Old media really is dying. No one I talked to uses the radio or newspapers to get their daily news. 4/7 people used phone apps and 6/7 people used online (stats don’t add up to 7 because you could select both phone and online)

    2. Despite the fact that 4/7 people I interviewed had iPhones, one person spent 0 minutes daily using news related apps and 4 spent only 10 minutes on them. Having an iPhone myself I know it is a nice phone to read news on, with an easy interface and great apps I was shocked more people didn’t pass the time on the subway reading news.

    3. 4/7 people said they used apps the most when they were ‘bored’. This leads me to believe that an app should provide amusement, not just straight hard news.

    4. One of the most informative questions I asked was what makes a good app. Here are some responses: “Fast, easy, convenient, useful”// “Usability and clean interface”//”The best apps are intuitive, they work in ways that makes sense to the user. They work in a logical progression. For instance it drives me crazy that my iPhone calender will not allow me to snooze an alarm. That is a very handy function yet it is not available”//”Free (unless it’s really amazing), easy to ease, relevant”//well-designed, high ratings, quick and gives a lot of information”//”Simplistic”//”Can hold my interest for more than 2 minutes”

    5. I was surprised that 6/7 read international news every day and 5/7 said international news was more important to them. Some responses to back this up: “I usually read BBC News or Al-Jazeera. America has a weird problem with sensationalism and these outlets seem less…sensationalist.”//”NY Times, its more important whats going on globally than locally.”//”Reuters & BBC News tweets. I like to know what the rest of the world is thinking and not be blinded by the light of the good old USA.”//”Online. Usually when something big happens, like in Egypt or Japan. I think things like that effect everyone”

    6. Despite the subjects I interviewed not being huge users of mobile apps they all stressed the importance of them to the success of a news organization. Some of their responses: “on a scale of 1-10, id say 10. Every organization should utilize the new social media options and apps. its good marketing, and a great way to get to the masses”//”Extremely important. Most people do not understand how easy it is to stay current using a mobile app. It is a huge time saver but it is a learned habit. Most techno junkies wake up in the morning, turn our phone on and peruse the news. Once you understand how easy it is the habit takes hold. They call it breaking news for a reason it’s happening moment to moment. The mobile app is best suited to providing that content.”//”I think they’re fairly important to the younger generation since many of us are frequently using our phones and actual newspapers almost seem a thing of the past. By using apps, news organizations are keeping themselves relevant and easy to access.”//”I think every organization should have one as an option.”//”Very important. In our technological world, apps keep us connected.”

  4. Joanna Wesoly
    April 5, 2011 at 10:11 pm

    Here is some information that I got from my interviews:

    5 of my sources had smart phones. There were two Samsung Epics, one Blackberry, one Razr, and two Evo’s. One of my sources had a basic phone (Razr) that could just call and send texts. He used the computer for all his information. The rest of my sources got their global news online and through their apps.

    Even though apps are used by my sources, most of them don’t use apps for serious news. One source said she downloads fun apps as a way to not be bored from her commutes home or when she is at work and has nothing to do. Another source said apps don’t have all the information he is looking for. A mobile site would have more, but the full version is the best. If an app would be able to have even what a mobile site had in most apps, he would use it more.

    1 of my sources gets his main news from talk radio. This means world news and local news. He believes that journalism is dying because reporters have their own take on things and don’t always show every side to a story.

    One source got all her global news through BBC and Al-Jazeera because she says that global media knows more because they are actually in the country they are reporting on. Also, they don’t cut things or refuse to show them; they show all the news that they believe their readership needs to see.

    None of my sources used newspapers to get their information. It was all done online, through their phones, apps, t.v., or radio.

    One of my sources said that news apps are not interesting enough to keep his attention. They need to be quick and easy, but have enough information that will keep him interested and informed. Most of the things on the apps he downloads are vague and not as detailed as the website.

    From all of my sources, I learned that if mobile and apps worked a little bit better and apps were more informative and detailed, they would be used more for global and local news.

  5. Regan Crisp
    April 6, 2011 at 11:06 am

    Here’s what I found out:

    Like everyone else said, it seems like most people, especially those with smartphones, are getting their news online. This wasn’t even true six months ago, but I did see this article via Twitter today: http://mashable.com/2011/03/15/online-versus-newspaper-news/

    I don’t think that means traditional media is dead, though. Most of my interviewees listen to the radio, specifically to NPR. I think the viability of that news style hasn’t decreased as much as, say, the print newspaper, which can be easily replicated online. It sounds like, at least for my sources, radio offers something other news platforms can’t – narrative and convenience (you can listen wall driving, walking around if you download podcasts.)

    M.C. in San Francisco said, “My reading comprehension is awful and the people on NPR have such lovely articulate voices.”

    I also noticed that age made a big difference – I had two sources about eight years older than the rest of my sources, and they were more inclined to read their news on an actual computer screen as opposed to their phone, and both listened to the radio regularly. They were also less interested in apps, though one regularly downloaded podcasts.One of them actually used the phrase “I’m not ‘techy'”

    As far as global/local is concerned, it sounds like aside from weather, most of my sources weren’t as connected to local news as they were international news, and only felt the need to visit national and international news sources, rarely local ones. They found usefulness in local event updates, but little other news.

    Some more quotes:

    “I get my news from the Internet- typically from online “newspapers” like NYT, local Chicago news sites, BBC, The Guardian. I also download podcasts. I choose these medias because I can choose the stories that I want and I don’t have to wade through stories that I am not interested in.”

    “With radio (via podcasts) I can listen to news/stories while I am commuting or doing any other number of things; radio (via podcasts) allows me to multi-task.”

    B.H. in Chicago, iPhone user

    “Most of my event updates are through my email… for me, personally, because I don’t feel like I always need to be plugged in, I would opt to not have any updates to my phone. My ocd kicks in when I see the red dot in the corner of an app telling me to take care of it and it drives me nuts.”

    M.C. in San Francisco, iPhone user

    “I’ve downloaded many apps so far (including the NPR app).”
    J.C. in San Francisco, new iPhone user.

    All of my sources used iPhones.

  6. April 6, 2011 at 7:42 pm

    I had some difficulty finding people who even listened to N.P.R. period. I do know statistically that the higher your education the more likely you are to listen to N.P.R. But of the people who did listened would have it running either on the radio in their car or streaming it off the internet. While they were doing something else. The national program Fresh Air was mentioned a few times.
    Three of the people still got the majority of there news from the t.v. Two would check on their phones as their main source. One gentleman got his news from the radio in his car and two newspapers (one of my Starbucks regulars) USA Today and the New York Times. One guy just looks whats on the front page. (Also I see this a lot a my job).
    With a good search engine the website Could also be used as a research tool. utilizing its great reporting.

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