Publishers Offer Package Deal of 27 Magazines for Tablet Viewing

  • Magazine publishers — Condé Nast, Hearst, Meredith, News Corporation and Time Inc. — have created a package deal of 27 magazines for your tablet that costs $10 a month.
  • The package includes popular publications such as Better Homes and Gardens, Condé Nast Traveler, Esquire, Fortune, Glamour, People, Real Simple, TIME, Vanity Fair, Coastal Living, Cooking Light and Southern Living.
  • For $5 more a month, or $180 a year in total, you can also get Entertainment Weekly, People, Sports Illustrated and The New Yorker. The number of magazines are expected to double or triple by year end.
  • The package app is available now only on Android 7- and 10-inch tablets that run 3.0 or 4.0 versions of Android. An iPad app is being submitted to Apple for review in a few weeks. Rather than to download and save all magazines, you can select up to 12 magazines to save.
  • Interestingly, the package is not cheap if you consider you could subscribe individually to the few magazines you really want for less. Moreover, the app does not include a global search feature, something you would expect to find, and the UI can vary by magazine which can be confusing. Still, it’s nice to have all the magazines you want in one place.

Security: CISPA Backed by Internet Companies and SOPA Opponents

  • The Cyberintelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA) is being backed by Internet companies that were previously opposed to its predecessors — SOPA and PIPA.
  • Under CISPA, companies are no longer responsible for the actions of its customers. The government is now responsible. Moreover, companies can refuse requests for information.
  • Microsoft, Facebook, AT&T, Intel and Verizon have all expressed support for the proposed legislation.
  • Still, while the legislation does not threaten the operation of the Internet, some critics see it as a threat to data privacy.
  • CISPA is so broad that “just about any online activity, including alleged piracy, could be considered a security threat,” reports Fortune.
  • “Andrew Couts of Digital Trends believes that although tech- and privacy-minded folk online are up in arms, opposition might not spread to the population at large in the same way opposition to SOPA and PIPA did,” explains the article. “Those bills threatened the very operation of the Internet, and were much bigger, or at least more direct, threats to free speech. Here, the issue is more about data privacy.”

Bob Weir Streams HD-Quality Music in Yahoo Deal

  • Yahoo has signed a streaming music deal with TRI Studios, a state-of-the-art music facility built by Bob Weir, a founding member of the Grateful Dead. The studio will provide HD-quality streaming content to Yahoo Music’s 34 million viewers.
  • CNBC suggests the deal “could help bring high quality music and videos into homes around the world and change the music streaming business model that has so far made losers out of both the studios and the artists.”
  • The studio has already provided online shows from Weir, Sammy Hagar and Carlos Santana. Shows are ad-supported and designed to watch on home theater systems.
  • “Weir said he sees the advertising linked to the live music as a move away from traditional corporate sponsorship of performances and toward ‘patronage for rock and roll’ the way companies underwrite classical music,” reports CNBC.
  • Viewers from all over the world will be able to watch the shows and simultaneously interact through Facebook and Twitter to communicate with other viewers and performers in real-time.
  • Put on some earbuds and check out the music from TRI Studios. It’s worth a listen.

Motorola Mobility: Strategic and Operational Challenges for Google?

  • Google is looking to its new $12.5 billion Motorola Mobility acquisition to create innovative new devices. But they will need to do so without scaring away Android’s 55 manufacturers.
  • The challenge for Android is that more companies will develop so-called “forked” versions like Amazon. Each will have features to differentiate them that may be at odds with Google itself. Samsung, for example, is bringing out its own advertising network that will compete with Google.
  • Moreover, Google will be challenged to maintain its traditional high margins in a hardware business where companies are barely profitable. Motorola Mobility, in fact, has been losing money. Google may be forced to sell off parts of the company such as the cable set-top box business. And there are rumors that the handset business is also for sale.
  • But Google denies that rumor. “And that may be the scariest part of all for Google’s investors. The company really believes it can be all things to all people,” reports the Wall Street Journal.

Yapp Offers Solution for Creating Mobile Apps: No Need to Learn Code

  • New York-based startup Yapp has launched a beta version of its Yapp Events app that allows users to create special event apps without doing any programming.
  • “Yapp’s first product is like a mobile Paperless Post,” reports Business Insider. “Instead of sending an email or Facebook invite, Yapp lets you create a mobile app invite that can be downloaded by friends.”
  • Yapp Events works on iOS and Android devices.
  • The company is also working on a product that will allow non-programmers to create other mobile products. Is this the future of app development?
  • Take a look at the 2-minute video to see how simple it is to use.

Publishers Scrambling to Create More Immersive, Social E-Books

  • With some 48 million tablets and e-readers sold last year, book publishers are being forced to become multimedia companies whose e-books can include audio, video and interactive elements.
  • Standards and formats can vary from books with audio and video for the iPad to so-called “enhanced e-books.”
  • Young adult (YA) fiction caters to teens who are already involved with text messages, Facebook and blogs. YA literature crosses film, TV and social media to create multimedia storytelling.
  • One publisher envisions books as social experiences. Another released a book that allows the story to be told in different ways. “Last fall, for example, indie publisher Folded Word released author Mel Bosworth’s ‘Freight’ as an e-book that electronically built on the choose-your-own-adventure format, creating a narrative that could be told in more than one way (‘Chopsticks’ incorporates a similar feature),” reports Wired.
  • HarperMedia is looking for opportunities where publishers and studios can work together to create both print and screen versions.

FLIXPAC: Netflix Comments on Newly Formed Political Action Committee

  • Netflix has created its own political action committee called FLIXPAC.
  • The company has been increasing its lobbying presence in Washington and sees the PAC as a logical next step.
  • Netflix is especially interested in video privacy laws, which have kept it from integrating with social network Facebook.
  • According to the company statement on its objective: “PACs are commonplace for companies that lead a big, growing market and Netflix is no exception. Our PAC is a way for our employees to support candidates that understand our business and technology. It was not set up for the purpose of supporting SOPA or PIPA. Instead, Netflix has engaged on other issues including network neutrality, bandwidth caps, usage based billing and reforming the Video Privacy Protection Act.”
  • “Reminder: Netflix has been particularly vocal about the VPPA since last summer,” reports Peter Kafka for AllThingsD. “Last year it boosted its political spending significantly in an effort to change that law.”

Instagram-Facebook News Brand New, but Already Experiencing Backlash

  • The acquisition news is not even a day old and there are already some Instagram users who are quite upset with its sale to Facebook.
  • Instagram was becoming a social network in its own right, serving as more than just a photo-sharing app to some of its users. Many had signed up with Instagram as an alternative to Facebook, which they did not trust.
  • “One of my favorite Instagramers, Elise Marie, shared a black screen in protest of the deal,” writes Om Malik for GigaOM. “There is a #instablack hash-tag that has been created to protest the deal. Clicking on #facebook on the service exposes one to even more photos expressing disappointment.”
  • Malik republished a 2005 post by Robert Young, originally written about MySpace, that explains the emotions involved with such a change. The post opens with the following: “There’s a certain level of what (for the lack of a better phrase) I will refer to as cognitive dissonance when you run a business based on community. And that’s that you quickly realize that the members of the community feel strongly that the service belongs to them, and the control that you, the corporation, think you have is actually, in large part, an illusion.”
  • “What Robert said in 2005 is even more valid today, except that instead of large media owners, the disruptors and social media platforms are finding themselves at a weird sport — the tail is wagging the dog,” concludes Malik.

Selling You on Facebook: New Privacy Trends in the Digital Age

  • While apps may cost only a few dollars and many are free, users are increasingly required to “pay” with personal information. This can include email addresses, current location, work history, birthdays — even sexual preferences, and religious and political affiliations. Moreover, some apps require users to disclose the personal information of their friends as well.
  • App developers are compiling large databases of user information to be used by advertisers, app makers and other unspecified users — which are often not disclosed.
  • While Facebook requires apps to ask for permission before accessing personal information, that does not always happen. And Facebook does not always enforce their own privacy rules.
  • Interestingly, apps that frequently ask for permission are disregarded by users as they get increasingly accustomed to the alerts.
  • “Up until a few years ago, such vast and easily accessible repositories of personal information were all but nonexistent. Their advent is driving a profound debate over the definition of privacy in an era when most people now carry information-transmitting devices with them all the time,” reports the Wall Street Journal.

iPad Not Just for Consumption: New iOS Apps are All About Creativity

  • While the iPad has been considered primarily a consumption tool, the newest wave of apps are creation tools that focus on authoring and artistic endeavors.
  • Snapguide gives anyone the tools to easily make their own how-to guides. According to GigaOM, founder Daniel Raffel has been fielding positive responses: “He’s barely been sleeping, staying up to answer a constant stream of feedback emails about his very slick and good-looking iOS app that helps people easily make do-it-yourself guides to just about anything armed with just an iPhone and an idea.”
  • Additional new apps are appealing to the creative side of mobile users. For example: Paper is a drawing and journaling app, Github shows you how to code, Flickr shows off the pictures you take, and Codea allows you to create iPad apps using its touch-oriented programming language.
  • Codea’s creator, Simeon Nasilowski, comments on the iPad’s potential as a creation tool: “I didn’t understand why people were saying it’s just for consumption. You can run any tools you like on it, you just have to think about it from a different interaction viewpoint — not mouse and keyboard, you just need tools optimized for touch. Then it becomes quite a good creation tool.”

New Trends in Field Reporting: iPhone Documentary Takes on Syria

  • A reporter for Al Jazeera took his iPhone into Syria to report on the fighting between Syrian forces and the revolutionaries.
  • “The 25 minute documentary, ‘Syria: Songs of Defiance,’ aired on Al Jazeera’s show ‘People & Power’ last month,” reports Mashable. “Al Jazeera has not released the reporter’s name for safety reasons.”
  • This is a view you will not see on the major news networks. The undercover report provides clarity and perspective for a Western audience that is missing in the raw footage uploaded to YouTube by locals and “citizen journalists.”
  • The reporter explains that taking a camera into the region would have been extremely risky, but traveling with a phone does not draw as much attention. Precautions are still necessary, however, since the Syrian government recently banned iPhone usage.
  • Clearly, this video could not have been captured using a traditional news crew. This may represent the future of journalism.
  • The video is included at the bottom of the report.

Google Think Quarterly: Insights and Outlooks on the Digital Future

  • The newest Think Quarterly, an online and print magazine Google UK publishes for partners and advertisers, focuses on Creativity.
  • In regards to YouTube’s New Era: “YouTube is undergoing the most profound shift in its history — licensing original programming from new creative partners. Its mission is to transform all of us into active participants in TV culture.”
  • “Communities are responding to each other. Someone makes a video, then others respond to it or remix it in some way. That is a different kind of entertainment. There isn’t an analog from 50 or 100 years ago. It’s a brave new world,” suggests Professor Gary Edgerton, media scholar at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia, and author of “The Columbia History of American Television.”
  • “We are seeing a convergence in all mediums of storytelling and it’s really exciting. We’re not just looking at more specific content, but also a level of interactivity that is going to be the future of content consumption going forward… I think there will always be original, linear content but what it’s going to turn into is the integration of more user-generated content like multiple endings, or plot suggestions that are contributed interactively and create a daily experience that offers the option to consume linearly but also to ‘gamify’ content in a way that is perfectly apropos with the device you are consuming it on. I want to tell stories that are ‘5D’ in terms of interactivity,” explains Anthony Zuiker, creator of the hit TV series “CSI.”
  • Earlier editions are also available, including: The Speed Issue — January 2012, The People Issue — September 2011, The Innovation Issue — July 2011 and The Data Issue — March 2011.

2012 Update: Google CEO Outlines Company Philosophy and Vision

  • It’s been a year since Larry Page became Google’s CEO. The following are some highlights from his 2012 update published yesterday.
  • “Google has so many opportunities that, unless we make some hard choices, we end up spreading ourselves too thin and don’t have the impact we want.”
  • “Creating a simpler, more intuitive experience across Google has been another important focus. I have always believed that technology should do the hard work — discovery, organization, communication — so users can do what makes them happiest: living and loving, not messing with annoying computers! That means making our products work together seamlessly.”
  • “Getting from needs to actions lightning fast is especially important on smaller devices like mobile phones, where screen size is limited and context really matters. That’s why I’m so excited about Android.”
  • “We have always believed that it’s possible to make money without being evil.”
  • “I believe that by producing innovative technology products that touch people deeply, we will enable you to do truly amazing things that change the world.”

Media Critic Offers Analysis of Hyperaddictive Stupid Games

  • Sam Anderson of The New York Times explores the world of addictive games, the people who create them, and how “gamification” is being used in the real world.
  • The article provides an interesting overview of the popularity and evolution of gaming and what Anderson refers to as “hyperaddictive stupid games.” He also examines the current definition of “games.”
  • For example, he suggests that Zynga’s games such as “FarmVille” and “FishVille” may need to be defined as something other than games. “They are click-machines powered by the human need to achieve progress by a predictable path and a willingness to pay small amounts of money to make that progress go faster. They are not ‘games,’” wrote Nicholas Carlson of Business Insider.
  • “But you could argue that games like ‘FarmVille’ are in fact just the logical end of gamification: gamified games,” comments Anderson. “They have the appearance of games, they inspire the compulsions of games, but for many people they are not fun like games.”
  • Anderson spoke with Frank Lantz, the creator of “Drop7” (which Anderson describes as addictive). “Games, he told me, are like ‘homebrew neuroscience’ — ‘a little digital drug you can use to run experiments on your own brain.’ Part of the point of letting them seduce you, as Lantz sees it, is to come out the other side a more interesting and self-aware person; more conscious of your habits, weaknesses, desires and strengths.”
  • “It’s like heroin that is abstracted or compressed or stylized,” he said. “It gives you a window into your brain that doesn’t crush your brain.”
  • Try out the “Asteroids” game embedded on the article’s first page. You can fly across the story!

Highlight Hunter Finds Best Clips and Reduces Time Spent Scanning Footage

  • Highlight Hunter is a free app for Macs and PCs that takes your unedited video and creates highlight clips ready for downloading into your favorite editing program.
  • The app requires you to cover the lens after you shoot footage you want highlighted. The app automatically looks for those clips and includes the preceding 30 seconds. The company claims it can reportedly reduce editing time an average of 80 percent.
  • A later version will enable the software to scan, edit, upload to the cloud and make clips available on YouTube.
  • “Highlight Hunter is free to use, and unlimited, but the free version applies a small watermark to videos,” reports TechCrunch. “Users can switch to a $29/year premium version, which removes the watermark, supports faster scanning speeds, priority support, among other things.”
  • The article also mentions HighlightCam, which has facial recognition and other software that can create mini-movies.