17th level Hacker

Mobile News

There’s a post over at TheFeature about trying to get the traditional news business to adapt to mobile information delivery. I know my own experiences are probably way out of line with the norm, but I’ve built up a little list of feeds that I can scan when I’ve got a few minutes worth of time. My mobile feeds are the ones that provide the best summary versions (or have very short entries to begin with), and I scan through them with my phone. If I find something interesting, I email the link to myself so that I can check up on the full version when I get back to my computer. Not perfect, but it works out pretty well.

This might be one of the areas that best illustrates a possible shift in focus from mass media to small publishers. Although I haven’t read the book yet, I did go to hear Dan Gillmor talk about his new book We The Media. In the book he talks about small publishers starting to cut into the area currently held by larger media outlets. One of the advantages that smaller producers do have is that they can provide content which is more tailored. Any given consumer can then assemble the feed that they want out of a number of different smaller channels. While big media is facing an issue in terms of being able to provide specialized and tailored content, the same issue might not be faced by smaller producers. There are other issues with the small producers model, I’m not saying that it looks perfect so far. But it certainly seems that aggregating multiple small feeds from grassroots bloggers is a better starting model of mobile news delivery than trying to get major content publishers to publish in multiple formats and customize their feed.

Additionally, some of the issues that are commonly sighted with the grassroots movement might not really be issues at all. Many of the arguments echo those that we heard at the start of the open source movement, and those issues have proven to pale in comparison to the benefits. There might have to be some major tweaks to the system as time goes on, but there certainly seem to be some strong correlations between what’s happening to journalism now and what has happened to software over the last 10 years.