Incubator for Digital Storytellers

Oregon Story Board is an accelerator to help digital storytellers create companies, explains Rick Turoczy of Silicon Florist. The startup incubator is now accepting applications for the first class of its accelerator program.

The collaborative working environment is housed at the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry. It offers a four-month program where companies receive access to technical and business support from entrepreneurs, investors and executives with expertise in the digital storytelling and funding.

Portland’s Independent Publishing Resource Center opened in 1998 with classes and resources to small publications, while The Portland Zine Symposium gathers writers, publishers and fans of the small, informal publications.

I’m intrigued by ePub3 which utilizes HTML 5, CSS and Javascript for interactivity – without constant internet connectivity – while delivering revenue for authors.

E-Pub3 is a natural for textbooks, but many authors object to interrupting the narrative flow. If it doesn’t serve the story, extraneous content (mostly) gets in the way.

Author Corey Fayman may have cracked the code in his e-book, Border Field Blues.

I decided on one essential interface design rule. There would be only one button on the screen, an ‘Extras’ button that sat at the bottom of the screen.

That button would open a new window, from which users had access to the following:

  • Photographs of various locations
  • Related videos from YouTube
  • Playable audio files of music referenced in the book
  • My own notes on each chapter
  • Google Maps of the areas
  • Email functionality, so readers could contact me
  • A way for readers to share comments within the app itself

All of the above were embedded into one “Extras” screen so that navigating the interface remained simple and clear. Readers can pop into the “Extras” section and pop back to the text with one simple tap in either direction.

If you want to build interactivity but aren’t a coder, there are free or cheap mobile app development tools that don’t require a lot of skill, such as AppMakr, Codiqa and Infinite Monkeys. They allow just about anyone to build simple apps by adding text, images and other features into templates. PhoneGap lets you code once – without going native – while targeting many different platforms including Android, IOS and Windows Phone. It can also detect your location with GPS and utilize a camera or other platform sensors.

Mobile Meetups help connect developers to share experience and knowledge.

Python has surpassed Java as the top language used to introduce U.S. students to programming, according to a recent survey by the ACM. The three largest, most popular online class providers — Coursera, edX and Udacity also offer introductory programming courses in Python.

The Readium Foundation (Readium.org) develops technology to accelerate adoption of EPUB 3 and the Open Web Platform by the global digital publishing industry. The non-profit organization’s projects include Readium Web (an EPUB 3 rendering engine for browser-based cloud readers) and Readium SDK (an EPUB 3 rendering engine for native apps). Their Readium for Chrome has garnered the highest scores out of over two dozen reading systems.

Portland Radio Project, a new online radio station, aims to capture the growing popularity of internet listening by bucking a trend. More and more commercial radio stations downplay local coverage, but PRP plans to go in the opposite direction. It’s available on IOS and Android. They work with OPB and their original content can be distributed through PRX.

Another Kickstarter funded on-line radio station, XRay.fm, has recruited 75 local DJs to “ignite both hemispheres of the brain with music, talk, culture, and more.”

Live Wire Radio is a weekly variety show taped in front of a live audience in Portland, Oregon and aired on public radio stations around the country.

The expanding portfolio of Public Radio Exchange, the Internet-based distribution platform, has prompted some public radio insiders to question whether NPR’s Public Radio Satellite System can adapt to stiffer competition from independent content producers. Both aspiring and established producers can distribute their work on PRX. Transom.org offers new work and voices to public radio and public media, with tools, advice, and community.

This American Life split from distributor Public Radio International on July 1, ending a 17-year relationship and now relies on PRX to deliver weekly editions to stations.

The BiblioTech digital library in Bexar County Texas has officially opened their doors to the public. Patrons will be able to access to over 10,000 eBooks and residents will be able checkout 600 E-readers, 9 laptops and 40 tablets to read them on.

BiblioTech branch manager Catarina Velasquez explained you won’t find rows and rows of books. “Instead, you’re going to see rows and rows of computers,” said Velasquez. “We have all of our content digital and online.”

Comcast: WiFi in Merger Mix with TWC

Comcast confirmed that it’s weighing plans to create a nationwide WiFi network using its routers. Comcast filed its 180-page merger plan with the FCC detailing their proposed $45 billion Comcast-Time Warner merger.

Comcast is the largest cable operator in the nation and Time Warner Cable is the second largest. On Tuesday, David Cohen, Executive VP will be testifying before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee.

The merger would create a behemoth, reports the NY Times, controlling 30 percent of the nation’s cable subscribers and more than 40 percent of broadband service, nationwide. Opponents of the deal say joining the two largest providers of cable television and broadband service would create a company with inordinate market power.

“This will lead to new technologies, better services and more choices for consumer and businesses — keeping America at the forefront of the digital revolution,” Comcast Executive Vice President David Cohen said Wednesday in prepared testimony.

Perhaps Comcast should start with a new settop box. The Natural Resources Defense Council says the biggest energy drain in your house is the TV set-top box, not the fridge, air conditioner, or heater. It operates at near full power even when the consumer is neither watching nor recording a show.

Comcast residential customers by the hundreds of thousands across the country now have the new Xfinity routers with a public-hotspot feature.

The CableWiFi alliance was announced at last year’s Cable Show in Boston. It includes hotspots from Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Cox Communications and Bright House Networks. Collectively the MSOs in the partnership have laid claim to having the largest Wi-Fi network in the nation.

It makes their homes rough equivalents of coffee shops and other public venues that have long offered free Wi-Fi. Comcast didn’t say whether it is considering a hybrid mobile service or selling Wi-Fi to carriers.

Whether Comcast’s WiFi network would be truly “free” (to non-cable subscribers) is an open question. It creates a new revenue stream for Comcast but could kill competition before its starts.

The FCC recently voted to hike the power to 100 MHz of spectrum in the lower 5 GHz band. Comcast applauded the move and had lobbied for it.

France’s Free Mobile uses a similar network. Free.fr uses a set-top box that automatically shares a portion of one’s broadband connection via Wi-Fi with other Free.fr customers. Over five million set-top boxes has created a free Wi-Fi cloud enveloping major cities such as Paris.

Iliad-owned Free added 4G LTE at no extra cost to customers. Free in France offers unlimited talk, unlimited SMS and MMS messages, tethering and unlimited data with a speed reduction after 3 GB. Free charges only $25 per month and there is no contract.

Verizon could sell 4G access to Comcast outside of its footprint in exchange for access to Comcast’s Wi-Fi networks, according to GigaOm.

Comcasts’ strategy may not be unlike Republic Wireless which uses Voice over WiFi to offer monthly plans starting at just $5/month. A proprietary VoIP Android application can seamlessly switch between Sprint’s CDMA mobile networks and Wi-Fi networks.

Sprint’s Wi-Fi Calling is a free service that lets you use voice and messaging services over existing home, office and public Wi-Fi networks. Sprint now supports four phones for Wi-Fi calling, the tri-band Galaxy S4 and Galaxy S4 mini, as well as the Samsung Galaxy Mega and Samsung Galaxy Note 3.

Skeptics are fearful Comcast and Time Warner Cable will simply “take out” actually free WiFi spectrum. Some people (like me), fear that by blanketing whole communities with powerful WiFi on the lower 5 GHz band, Comcast and Time Warner could largely eliminate any WiFi competition from GoWex, Facebook/Cisco, Google, the phone companies or independent providers. Comcast could charge for the air.

Other WiFi providers that plan “free” nationwide networks include:

A combined licensed/WiFi 2.0 hotspot subscription model might make a lot of sense — in the 20th century. It’s hard to imagine Comcast and Time Warner – let alone mobile phone operators – becoming a low cost provider for the unsubscribed mobile masses.

A Comcast/TWC merger may require extensive consumer protection provisions, according to Ars Technica, which has an in-depth analysis.

The Consumerist’s annual poll voted Comcast America’s worst company. The company defeated Monsanto by a margin of 3 percent.

Related Dailywireless articles include; FCC hikes power in the lower 5 GHz band, Google Fiber Expands to More Cities, FCC Authorizes High Power at 5.15 – 5.25 GHz, Ad-Sponsored WiFi Initiatives from Gowex & Facebook, Comcast Creates Hotspot 2.0 National Network, FCC Moves to Add 195 MHz to Unlicensed 5 GHz band, Free Broadband in France?, Cities of San Jose and Santa Clara Get Free WiFi, Free WiFi for 31 SF Parks, Ubiquiti 802.11ac Outdoor Access Points, Ubiquiti Launches “Revolution”, Cloud-based WiFi: $100 a Pop, Enterprise-grade Firmware for Community WiFi Networks, Subsidized Access Vs Free Access, Free Google WiFi for NYC Chelsea Neighborhood, Meraki Proposes Free SF Wi-Fi Network, Cities of San Jose and Santa Clara Get Free WiFi, Free WiFi: It’s a Right!, San Jose: Municipal Wi-Fi Comes Alive (Again),

Facebook Invents Paper

Facebook today revealed Paper, a standalone iOS news reader app that delivers human and algorithm-curated full-screen articles and photos. Paper launches in the U.S. today, one day before Facebook’s 10th birthday.

Unlike other Facebook mobile efforts such as Messenger and the failed Snapchat knockoff Poke – it isn’t a specialized tool. It’s Facebook — almost all of it — rethought for a small screen, explains Time.

Most of what you can do in the standard Facebook for iPhone app, you can do in Facebook Paper, but it adds a new interface with a news section organized by topic. Paper is the first app out of Facebook Creative Labs, an initiative to let small teams within Facebook build standalone mobile experiences.

The app comes with a handful of sections for topics like tech, sports, and cooking, in addition to giving you a new way to leaf through your friends updates. Algorithms and human editors will pull together a variety of content, collating stories from big-name publications and choice offerings from lesser-known blogs.

According to Wired, Paper is trying to position itself as a place you’ll go for news and inspiration–and, just as importantly, as the kind of place you’ll want to contribute to yourself.

When Facebook acquired Mike Matas’ digital publishing company Push Pop Press in 2011, it asked him to apply his skills to Facebook content. Matas designed software for the original iPhone, Nest’s trademark thermostat interface, and Al Gore’s pioneering interactive eBook Our Choice.

Push Pop’s HTML-5 heavy multimedia ebook, Our Choice ($4.99) was not just an app, but a showcase for their publishing platform. It includes an editor, a publishing and hosting service and a document format. The plan was to eventually open it out to external publishers.

Whether it will be a threat to existing news aggregators like Flipboard, Google Currents, Zite, Circa, News360, Inside and others remains to be seen. FiftyThree, the maker of a rival app, also called Paper is clearly unhappy with Facebook. Apple named FiftyThree’s Paper the Best App of the Year in 2012.

According to a review in The Verge:

Everything from swipes to pinch-and-zooms respond instantaneously and naturally, and images load quickly. The team created a host of new gestures and ideas that will very likely inspire the next generation of interactive apps. Paper actually includes no refresh button. New content cards fly in the moment they’re posted.

Facebook is reaching 1.25 billion active users on its tenth anniversary, and bringing the ebook to life may be a one way to expand its impact.

MoPub Ad Network Bought by Twitter

Twitter announced today that they’ve acquires MoPub, a mobile-focused advertising exchange. MoPub’s technology lets publishers manage and optimize advertising — using direct ads, house ads, ad networks, and real-time bidding through the MoPub Marketplace. It features a dashboard where customers can see how each source is performing.

Their publishing partners include mobile industry verticals in Gaming, News, Sports, Finance etc. MoPub automates the prioritization process based on its own data and the data it has acquired from various networks, so that it can predict the likely CPM, clickthrough rate, latency, and more on a given ad.

Ad serving companies provide software that serves and targets ads and enables the website and advertiser to make the most money.

With the world moving to mobile devices, “newspaper” startups are best positioned to abandon the costly print overhead.

Here’s what I’d do:

  • All electronic. News startups must be designed around tablets and phones. Like CNN networked around the state or region.
  • Free. Mass marketing must be available free – like TV and Radio. Ad revenue supplies (most) of the revenue.
  • Live Events. Segways, bikes and backpacks provide live event coverage. Virtually all stories have video embeds and slide shows.

  • Mall Office. The office and staff are small. Most correspondents work from home and communicate with editors using the teleconference/blogging system.
  • Facebook and Twitter stimulate buzz and enable citizen journalism.
  • A daily package of proven audience getters such as; crosswords, comics, astrology, as well as dozens of opinionated columnists.
  • Free public WiFi hotspots in parks, bus kiosks and local events.
  • Video Classifieds. BrandLive lets you broadcast shared live video pitches and demos statewide. A state-wide Saturday Market.
  • Advertisers use the Ad Exchange to target ads, using Behavioral Targeting and Contextual Targeting to determine which ad to show during a given visit.
  • Revenue. Lets say you have 1 million pageviews/month and make $100K/month from advertising. Could that pay the bills? You could start at 1/10th that and scale up. Premium content and affiliated marketing might drive the train.

Bust the old paradigm. Burn the paper. This revolution is real and it’s happening now.

Epic Magazine: A Blockbuster Model

Writing that grabs you and won’t let go, is increasingly rare in the revenue-squeezed magazine industry. While gripping, non-fiction narrative stories, that run long-form in magazines do get published, they are the exception. They take time to research and write. Magazines don’t have the money.

Now Joshua Davis and Joshuah Bearman, acknowledged masters of that craft, have a new business model for magazines — selling movie rights.

Davis’ article, John McAfee’s Last Stand, was picked up by Warner Bros. Argo, a movie based on Bearman’s story “The Great Escape”, won an Oscar for Best Picture last year. The pair have optioned the movie rights to 18 different stories.

On Monday, the pair introduced Epic Magazine, an online literary platform that will commission and publish big, nonfiction narratives that might also make good movies.

They hope movie rights on a small number of successful stories might subsidize all the rest. However, Davis and Bearman told the Times that they won’t automatically own the rights to their reporters’ work, but rather assist as producers.

You can read Epic Magazine free of paywalls or ads and see for yourself. Hopefully their talent will attract more great work.

Jeff Bezos Buys Washington Post

The Washington Post Co. agreed Monday to sell its flagship newspaper to Amazon.com founder and chief executive Jeff Bezos, ending the Graham family’s stewardship of one of America’s leading news organizations after four generations.

Bezos will pay $250 million in cash for The Post and affiliated publications to The Washington Post Co., which owns the newspaper and other businesses.

“We knew we could survive, but we always felt that our ownership should do more than help the paper survive,” Mr. Graham said in an interview Monday evening.

According to an employee memo by Bezos:

The values of The Post do not need changing. The paper’s duty will remain to its readers and not to the private interests of its owners. We will continue to follow the truth wherever it leads, and we’ll work hard not to make mistakes. When we do, we will own up to them quickly and completely.

I won’t be leading The Washington Post day-to-day. I am happily living in “the other Washington” where I have a day job that I love. Besides that, The Post already has an excellent leadership team that knows much more about the news business than I do, and I’m extremely grateful to them for agreeing to stay on.

The transaction is a reflection of how much has changed in the news industry in just a short time amid the rise of online media that have put print advertising business models under steep pressure.

“This newspaper would’ve sold 10 years ago for $2 billion,” said Craig Huber of Huber Research Partners.

In selling to Bezos, the Grahams left the Sulzbergers, the owners of The New York Times, as the last family standing in a club that once also included the Chandlers (Los Angeles Times), the Copleys (San Diego Tribune), the Cowles (Minneapolis Star Tribune), and the Bancrofts (Wall Street Journal).