Some market research on mobile video

Here are some juicy stats and research results I found while doing my homework for Designing The Future of TV:

13.4 million Americans watch some form of mobile video each month, and of those 13.4 million people, each watched an average of 3.5 hours of mobile video per month.  By comparison, the average American watches 153 hours of TV per month.  (Nielsen via Mashable, May 2009)

Also from Nielsen:

Except for the teenage years, viewing of traditional television increases with age; the use of video on the Internet peaks among young adults while viewing mobile video is highest in the teen years.

Men continue to watch video on mobile phones more than women, and women continue to watch video on the Internet and TV more than men.

In a 2007 international survey, a majority of all respondents agreed that “recommendations from friends had the most impact on the type of content they viewed over celebrity, amateur and professional endorsements.” (IBM via REELSEO)

According to a 2008 comScore study: on-demand video was the most popular mobile video format (compared to mobile broadcast), with 3.6 million viewers in the US. The report also gave a breakdown of the kinds of content mobile video users consumed:

on-demand mobile video consumption 2008

See also:
Eyes Wide Open: Video Usage Up, More Watch Cross-Platform
Nielsen: Mobile Video Use Lags Behind

Comments on “In a Digital Future, Textbooks Are History”

This past weekend the New York Times published an article called “In a Digital Future, Textbooks Are History” by Tamar Lewin.  The article profiles the increasing adoption of digital textbooks by school districts as a way of cutting costs and as a way of updating pedagogical methods in response to technological and social advances.  Lewin reports:

Textbooks have not gone the way of the scroll yet, but many educators say that it will not be long before they are replaced by digital versions — or supplanted altogether by lessons assembled from the wealth of free courseware, educational games, videos and projects on the Web.


In California, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger this summer announced an initiative that would replace some high school science and math texts with free, “open source” digital versions.

With California in dire straits, the governor hopes free textbooks could save hundreds of millions of dollars a year.

Among the article’s interviewees is Neeru Khosla, co-founder of the non-profit group CK-12 Foundation, which develops “flexbooks” that can be adapted to state educational standards.  (Khosla has also been featured on OpenEd and on the Creative Commons blog.) Khosla explains the virtues of the flexbooks:

You can use them online, you can download them onto a disk, you can print them, you can customize them, you can embed video. When people get over the mind-set issue, they’ll see that there’s no reason to pay $100 a pop for a textbook, when you can have the content you want free.

The article uses terms like “digital textbooks,” “free courseware,” “open source,” and “open-content,” but what exactly do these terms mean? While there is reference to the adaptability and customization digital texts, the article does not explicitly mention copyright.  While digital delivery of educational materials may solve some of the cost barriers of education, without an explicit understanding of terms like “open” and “free,” legal and social barriers remain.  As far as I am concerned, government-funded “digital textbooks” or “free courseware” should be as free as possible from copyright restrictions (licensed under Creative Commons BY Attribution license, the least restrictive of CC licenses) or in the public domain.  Only then will they be truly available for sharing, collaboration and reuse.  The fact that they are simply “digital” or “available on the Internet” alone is not enough.

The road to a digital future for education is not without its bumps.  Lewin brings up the issue of a the digital divide: “Not every student has access to a computer, a Kindle electronic reader device or a smartphone, and few districts are wealthy enough to provide them. So digital textbooks could widen the gap between rich and poor.”

The increasing adoption of digital textbooks may save on some costs, but will also require additional investment in computer hardware.  But the real issue at stake is not just the economic costs of education, but instead the need to focus on increasing the accessibility of knowledge.  In order for learning resources to be truly accessible, the issue is not just online vs. offline, digital vs. print.  To reach their maximum social and educational potential, learning materials in the digital future  will need to free from excessive copyright constraints (with clear open licensing like CC-BY or public domain declaration) in order to allow teachers and students the maximum freedom to legally share, modify, and improve upon them.

Also check out Jane Park of ccLearn’s post from last September: “Back to School: Open Textbooks Gaining in Popularity.”

The Washington Post versus Gawker

Background story in a nutshell

  1. Washington Post writer Ian Shapira writes an article about business coach/’generational consultant’ Anne Loehr: Speaking to Generation Nexus: Guru Explains Gens X, Y, Boomer To One Another
  2. Gawker blogger Hamilton Nolan picks up the story: ‘Generational Consultant’ Holds America’s Fakest Job
  3. Shapira complains that Gawker stole his story: The Death of Journalism (Gawker Edition)

My take

Shapira’s claim that Gawker did not properly attribute him are unfounded.  The Gawker post links to the original article and to Loeher’s generational cheat sheet.  Hyperlinks are the footnotes and citations of our generation (as Loeher would probably say). I’m giving my advice for free: my generation thinks that generational business coaches are B$.  We live in a cut and paste culture; computers lower the barrier to making derivative works, as the next section of this post will demonstrate.  The subject of the original article was pretty ridiculous to begin with, as if it were tailor-made for Gawker fodder.  Gawker added value to the original with its snarky commentary. (Ms. Loeher, is snark a characteristic of my generation too?)

If Oscar Wilde were alive today, he would probably say, “the only thing worse than being blogged about is NOT being blogged about.”  While we are on aphorisms, let me give you some more free (useless) advice about my generation, courtesy of Descartes, updated for our times: Blogito ergo sum. “I blog, therefore I am.”

I don’t think Gawker is so much ruining journalism as Shapira claims as much as it is Maybe the WaPo should stick to actual news coverage and investigative reporting (after all, this is the newspaper that exposed the Watergate scandal, but “old media” can’t just rest on its past laurels).  “New media” like Gizmodo is going to give newspapers a run for their money in terms of business model.  Newspapers can either adapt their business models and learn to compete with the supposed “pirates” (“piracy is just another business model“), or they can fail.  They can revamp their content and delivery models, or they can streamline and specialize in what they do best.  But here’s a hint for being hip with the kids: complaining about the death of journalism is old news and kind of played out.

Or, in a move of desperation, they can throw down the gauntlet and start an Internet turf war like Shapira has done, which is actually a very Gawker-esque thing to do.  (What would Anne Loeher say about how that reflects on Shapira’s generational values?) It certainly has succeeded in getting people’s attention, but I hope this is not the sustainable business model the WaPo has in mind.

Continue reading The Washington Post versus Gawker

LEESEAN.NET Design Tweaks

I’ve made a few tweaks to to make the design more user-friendly.

The most obvious change is the removal of the big photos that showed up in the header.  After careful consideration, I decided that while I like them, they were taking up too much space in the browser window, especially on small laptop monitors.  I removed the header image so that users won’t have to scroll down so far to start reading content.  If you miss the old header images, you can see them all here.

The other design tweaks are very minor.  I’ve increased the total width of the site to 850 pixels, and played with some of the font settings to increase legibility.  I’ve also brought back an updated Links page.

This site is a perpetual work-in progress.  I learn more PHP and CSS every time I make design changes, so it’s an educational exercise as well.  How does the new site look?  Feedback appreciated.

Noisy Idiots


My ITP classmate, Catherine White, has set up a community on Ning to discuss her ongoing project.  In her own words:

My research is primarily focused on how we work together in groups, particularly how to make collaboration more fruitful, and efficient (and less painful – because it sometimes is). Specifically, I am looking at groups we are part of online.

My thesis project came out of a midterm paper I wrote in March for Clay Shirky’s Social Facts class. I studied a forum online and discovered that there are some people who can be pretty disruptive in groups – even though they may not be violating the rules of the group. Its these people I’m interested in studying, to see how we can structure and govern groups to make collaboration enjoyable, not painful – and to ensure that group decisions reflect the group as a whole….

One small explanation about the term ‘Noisy Idiots’ – my main aim is to find ways to include people in debate and groups. The phrase came about in a playful manner due to sheer frustration at seeing some people dominate group discussion in a disruptive way. This paper tackles tricky issues such as balancing free speech and constructive conversation, but the aim is to get us all talking and listening to each other. I also understand the very important role that minority voices play in conversation – and am in no way suggesting that we shouldn’t listen to those with a view that is different to ours.

I’d be hugely grateful to hear your thoughts – and your ideas, thank you.

Read the the draft of Catherine’s paper and join the conversation at the Noisy Idiots Ning Community. Continue reading Noisy Idiots