Category Archives: Media Globalization

Butter’s Law Acting on Media

Previous webpage: Cooper’s Law Acting on Media

 

We don’t live in a ‘wired’ world, but a ‘fibered’ world. Wired communications is obsolete. Metallic wires could never have sustained the phenomenal growth of the Internet and of the global telecommunications networks in general. The world’s capacity to use telephones and networked computers would have expired and collapsed more than a dozen years ago if not for two telecommunications inventions of the 1960’s ad 1970’s: lasers and fiber optics. The constant acceleration of those combined technologies, known as Butters’ Law, makes the speed of Moore’s Law look like a snail’s pace.

Copper fibers had been used as the sole means of electronic communications from 1837 until 1880 and as the primary means of interpersonal telecommunications until the 1990’s. Copper fibers are still how most of the world’s wired telephones inside homes and offices get their signals from telephone poles or underground junction boxes outside. But simply an electrical signal through a copper wire, be that signal the on-off binary of Morse Code telegraphy or amplitude sine wave of a voice telephone call, has a physical speed limit which was first hit during the late 1870’s, a speed limit of approximately 30-kilobytes (0.03 megabytes) per second. Although that’s far faster than anyone could use a telegraph key, during the early age of telegraphy it meant that only one telegraph could be sent at a time through any single copper wire, a burden to any commercial telegraph system linking together major cities or countries. Even today, it means that a copper wire phone line is incapable of delivering stereophonic sounds (which requires more than 30-kilobytes of information per second).

During the 1880s, an English telegrapher and self-taught electrical engineer, Oliver Heaviside, found that by first converting signals into a radio wave, rather than a simple electrical pulse, multiple signals could be sent simultaneously down a copper fiber if each signals was sent at a different radio frequency and if the copper fiber carrying the signals was itself sheathed within a tube of copper mesh that blocked outside radio signals. His invention was the coaxial cable, which he patented. When wireless radio was invented by Guglielmo Marconi and by Nikola Tesla each independently during the following decade, the radio industry utilized copper coaxial cables to deliver their radio signals from transmission studios to transmitter towers, as did the television industry in later decades. However, there was still an intrinsic transmission speed limit to copper wire used with radio or television signals: a few gigabytes per second aggregate total for all the signals carried. Moreover, those wired signals needed to be amplified at least every 20 kilometers or so. By the 1960’s, the telephone, radio, television, and other industries were looking for a faster alternative to keep pace with the growth of telecommunications.

Light operates as much faster frequencies than do television or radio signals (150-terabytes compared to 1-gigabytes or 3-megabytes per second respectively). Thanks to Albert Einstein’s explanation in 1905 of the Photoelectric Effect, physicists had by the early 1960’s had developed first microwave and then laser signaling and receiving devices that could communicate across long distance outdoors. During the 1970’s, they’d miniaturized these photo-electronic devices (see Moore’s Law) enough to be able to send their laser signals through fibers of glass, a science now called photonics but colloquially known as fiber optics.

The transmission capacity limit of photonics is yet unknown. For example, physicists recently demonstrated a photonic system capable of delivering the contents of 700 DVD discs in a single second – nearly 3 terabytes or 3 million megabytes per second – an unlimited distance over a fiber optic cable thinner than a human hair. These superb capacities have led telecommunications companies worldwide to begin replacing their copper wire fiber networks with fiber optic ones. In all but very rural areas of developed countries, that work has been completed to the point at which the only remaining copper fiber or coaxial cables left are those remaining inside homes or offices themselves.

The phenomenal capacities of photonics and how increasingly faster signals can be transmitted through fiber optics led Gerald Butters, the scientist who formerly headed Lucent’s Optical Networking Group at Bell Labs, to see if he could make an observation similar to Moore’s Law for its advance. Like Cooper, he looked back at the transmission speeds of early photonics and forward to the present. He found that the speed at which information can be communicated through fiber optic circuits has been doubling every nine months, an observation that since become known as Butters’ Law.

That is an astonishing pace of accelerating capacity! By the time that Moore’s Law has merely doubled computer chip power, photonic capacity has increased 6.35 times. By the time that Cooper’s Law has doubled wireless capacity, photonic capacity has increased 16 times! And those increases in photonic capacity are just along a single strand of fiber. When strands like that are used to connect ever more computers in a network, such as the Internet, the communications capacity further increases according to Metcalfe’s Law, which states that the capacity of the network is proportional to the square (n2)of the number of connected computers! Imagine a network whose individual links can double in capacity every nine months yet also have that networks aggregate capacity additionally increase by the square number of its users during those nine months; because that is what’s happening. The resulting increase in capacity is astronomical!

Most people who live in developed countries where photonics are in widespread usage by telecommunications industry won’t see the transmission speeds provided by their Internet Service Provider companies double every nine months or certainly accelerate into the terabytes per second range in the immediate years. Those companies aren’t able to install and amortize the newest photonic technologies through their networks as quickly as Butters’ Law is accelerating, and most of the increased transmission capacity those companies for which those companies have been able to avail themselves has been used keeping pace with the increasing numbers of cable TV channels, of on-demand video deliveries, and of long-distance conveyance of mobile telephony. Nevertheless, most home and office users of wired Internet access (and mobile Internet access, too) have seen steady increases in transmission speeds and capacities. At the beginning of this decade, home Internet speeds of, at most, 1- to 3-megabyte were the norm, but now 5- to 50-megabytes per second are common. The European Commission has proposed that all new households in the 27-nation European Union be wired for 100-megabyte per second Internet access by 2020 (the initial minimum proposed is 30-megabyte per second).

The ramifications of Butters’ Law are mind-boggling and will have tremendous effects on 20th Century media industries such as telephony, broadcasting, and cinema, as well as on 21st Century media developments such as holography projections, augmented or virtual reality, and whatever other new forms of communications come next.

One of the practical effects of Butters’ Law is that probably by the end of this decade the time it takes to download or upload a song, a photograph, or a high‑definition movie via a modem connected to fiber optics won’t be perceptible. People now old enough to remember dial-up modems might think that to be incredible but by 2020, at the current pace of Butters’ law, all the textual information currently in the U.S. Library of Congress could be downloaded within a minute or the entire inventory of a Hollywood movie studio (nonetheless a single movie) within five minutes. The next generation won’t know the meaning of the phrase, ‘waiting to download’.

Next webpage: When Moore’s, Cooper’s, and Butters’ Laws Interact on Media

Index of the Rise of Individuated Media webpages

Personalize Media 2011 Keynote Speech

[34-minute PowerPoint video of keynote speech opening the fifth annual Personalize MEdia Conference (formerly Individuated Media conferences), Boulder, Colorado. June 20, 2011. How traditional media companies have gone astray by misperceiving consumers’ switch from analog to digital formats to be the greatest trend underway; why the abundance of content instead makes personalization (i.e., individuation) the greatest trend of 21st Century media; and what the media industries need do about it.  All images public domain. If otherwise, please contact vin@digitaldeliverance.com.]

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Welcome. My name is Crosbie.  Vin, as in Vincent, Crosbie. Welcome to Boulder! And Welcome to Personalize Media 2011! Welcome to the Chautauqua Center.

I’m glad the conference organizers decided to hold this meeting here at Chautuaqua. It’s is a wonderfully symbolic location for this conference. Behind the projection screen, on the wall of this hall, is a photo showing the first Chautauqua meetings ever held here. The year was in 1898. Everyone here was living in tents. Canvas tents. Back then, it wasn’t the high-tech Boulder you see outside the windows today, but a pioneering group, meeting to discuss what would become.

We’re figuratively those pioneers today. Thanks for asking me to keynote the conference. I’m going to start this conference with a very bold statement. A bold statement I’ll then justify. Personalization (individuation) is the major media trend of the 21st Century.

Some executives think these are dark times for media. Well, in case there are any historians in the audience: that’s like saying the Enlightenment was a dark time for the Feudal system.

If your business today dates from the Industrial Era – in other words, if your business is Mass Media—media based upon the practices that arose from the technological limitations of the analog press or analog transmitter—media in which all readers receives the same edition at once or all listeners or viewers see the same broadcast at once – then these are dark times indeed. The era of Mass Media’s feudal primacy is over. Something new and enlightened has replaced it.

Most media executives, schooled in Mass Media, don’t really understand what has happened

I’ll start explaining what’s happened by telling you about my own industry: the daily newspaper industry. The daily newspaper industry is among the oldest and most hallowed of media industries.

I’m here to tell you how lack of personalization, the lack of individuation, is destroying that industry in every one of the world’s post-industrial countries. In every country where people’s access and choice of media is no longer relatively scarce, but abundant.

Here in the U.S., the daily newspaper industry earned revenues of nearly $49 billion in Year 2000…. Ten years later, last year, that same industry earned only $25.2 billion. The U.S. daily newspaper industry has lost almost 50 percent of its revenues during the past ten years.

Some newspaper executives like to blame the 2007 recession for the loss. However, the facts are that less than half of that loss occurred during the recession. Most of that loss happened during the non-recession years, the years before and after the recession. An industry over 200 years old in this country has lost approximately half of its revenues during the past ten years.  Why?

I’ll tell you why: The reason is that newspapers and other media industries got caught in a conceptual trap—a conceptual trap into which most media executives fell as they tried to understand the greatest change in media history.

Most major languages have an adage about the conceptual trap into which most media executives have fallen: L’arbre qui cache la forêt. Los árboles no dejan ver el bosque. Er sieht den Wald vor lauter Bäumen nicht. ИЗ-ЗА ДЕРЕВЬЕВ ЛЕСА НЕ ВИДНО. Μπορεί να δει το δέντρο και όχι το δάσος. 见树不见林. 木を見て森を見ず. Because I speak English, the version I use is, they don’t see the forest for the trees.

Most media executives today mistakenly believe that the greatest change underway is that people are simply switching media consumption from analog to digital formats. These executive misperceive a trait or characteristic as the change itself.

They see the trees, but not the larger perspective. And their myopia has led of them to formulate the wrong strategies for adapting to the gargantuan changes underway in media.

Because most media executives misperceive the change underway to be that consumers are simply switching from analog to digital, these executives believe that what their companies must do to adapt is simply do in digital what they’ve always done in analog.

The executives believe that all their companies need to to is use the same business models, the same production practices, the same packaging, the same products, and the same content in digital as they’ve always used in analog — albeit with the addition of some hyperlinks, audio, video, and animation, and publicized via Social Media.

That’s the root of their not seeing the forest for the trees problem. (It’s about as apt a strategy as putting the Olsen Twins in the deep woods.)

Unfortunately, any strategy based upon a misperception will not only fail to yield successful results but will fail to explain why successful results aren’t yielded.

So, it’s not surprising that these media executives are mystified why the digital versions of their traditional newspaper and magazine editions and traditional broadcast programs aren’t earning anywhere near as much revenue online than those traditional products did in print—even in the cases when the digital products have more monthly users.

Moreover, these executives can’t explain why the average user of the digital version uses it much less frequently and less thoroughly than the average user of the analog version does.

Such are the captains of most media companies today: mis-navigating their companies through stormy times; captains of business who, misperceiving the great change in the media environment to be that consumers are simply switching consumption from analog to digital, hold true to the wrong course. They are myopic navigators leading media industries into financial ruin, layoffs, and catastrophe.

While they’re fishing for answers, wondering why their business as usual doesn’t work in digital – or New Media at all – we’re here. We know the answers. That’s why we are attending the fifth annual international Personalize MEdia Conference because we understand what’s really happening. We can see the forest for the trees.

We understand the greatest change in the history of media. We know that it’s not merely a change from analog to digital. We know that the greatest change is really that within only a generation people’s access and choice of news, entertainment, and information has changed from relative scarcity to surplus, even to surfeit or overload.

Look at how things were 40, 30, 20, or even ten years ago in post-industrial countries. News, entertainment, and information used to be relatively scarce. For examples, billions of people worldwide who wanted access to daily changing information had perhaps just one or two or three locally-distributed printed newspapers, plus one, two, or three television channels and a dozen or two radio stations within antenna range.

But all that has changed. Today, we’ve certainly a surplus of news, entertainment, and information. In fact, the main problem nowadays is overload. We’ve got a vast buffet or cornucopia. The problem is picking the exact items we want. And that’s the beauty of it. The exact items we want.

Yes, it’s true that people are switching consumption from analog to digital formats. But that’s not for format’s sake. They’re switching because digital technologies provide them with more choices and access to the news, entertainment, and information that specifically fits their individual mix of needs & interests. It isn’t the format they’re after, but its greater access and enormous choice of specific content.

The fact is that each of us is different. Each of us is an individual. Sure, we might share a few common interests: the weather, for instance. But that’s about it for common general-interests. Each of us, each of you, have dozens, hundreds, of specific interests. Each of us is a unique mix of those interests. And each of us gravitates to whatever content satisfies our own unique mix of individual interests.

Let me put it this way to you: Imagine that during most of your life you had no choice of what you ate. It varied daily, but it was exactly the same meal that everyone else in town ate that day.  What would you do if that situation changed and you instead had your choice of specific items from a gargantuan buffet? Would you continue to eat the communal, general-interest meal each day? No! You’d use the gargantuan buffet and satisfy your individual interests.

Indeed, that’s exactly why billions of people now use search engines daily. Nowadays, billions of people are manually personalizing, customizing, or individuating. They are finding the stories, videos, or other items of content that specifically match their own individual interests. They’re hunting and gathering all that themselves.

As Peter Horrocks, director of World Services for the British Broadcasting Corporation, recently said: “The consequence of this change in users’ consumption has only dimly been understood by the majority of journalists. Most of the major news organizations had the assumption that their news product provided the complete set of news requirements for their users. But in an internet world, users see the total information set available on the web as their ‘news universe’. I might like BBC for video news, the Telegraph or Daily Mail for sports results and The New York Times for international news…”.

People no longer consume generic packages. For example, take a look at these data from Nielsen about U.S. newspaper websites. The first assignment I give my graduate students is to tell me what remarkable about it. Students trained in traditional media, in Mass Media, tell me the answer is the huge number of people who use these websites.

However, the smart students point to the other data. For example, did you know that the average user of the The New York Times’ website visits it only 4.05 times per month; sees less than 27 webpages (which probably means less than 20 stories, because that site stretches most stories over more than one webpage); and spend an aggregate total of less than 20 minutes on the site all month. That‘s a visit only about once per week!

Unpersonalized, uncustomized, unindividuated content is used far less frequently and far less thoroughly online. People use New Media radically differently than they used traditional media.

And that radical difference is personalization, customization, individuation.

Another example, at the National Association of Broadcasters conference this April, Edison Research and Arbitron released a survey of American adults who use online radio. Fifty-three percent of those people knew of Pandora radio, which broadcasts personalized music. A quarter of all online radio listeners had used Pandora. One sixth had used it that month. One in ten people had listened to Pandora that week.

There are more than 6,000 radio stations webcasting in the United States, but one sixth of all online radio listeners listen to Pandora. I dare you to show me a traditional broadcaster or traditional print media site that one in ten of all people online use monthly. The most spectacular success in online broadcasting is personalized, customized, individuated. Pandora also is one of the most successful apps on smartphones and tablets.  And personalized, customized, individuated broadcasts such as Pandora and Last.fm are now having a radical effect on the radio industry.

This year, Clear Channel Communications, which owns more than 1,000 radio stations in the United States, more than any other company, announced that it will launched personalized, customized, individuated versions of its stations online.

Movies watched at home provide another example. Netflix is now the world’s largest distributor of videos. Is that because it has no stores? Is it because Netflix lets you rent a video for as much time as you want? No! It’s because of choice and personalization. Netflix gives each of its customer choice and access to tens of thousands of movies, enough to satisfy anybody’s unique mix of individual interests and tastes. Netflix wouldn’t be the world’s leader if it offered only the number of videos titles you could fit into a storefront.

Neither would Amazon be the leading bookseller.

In traditional media, Mass Media — in other words, Industrial Era media – every users sees exactly the same things at the same time as every other users. So, Is Facebook a Mass Medium? With more than 560 million users, it certainly has mass scale. Yet every user of Facebook sees something different than every other user of Facebook. What they see depends upon the user’s own individual mix of friends and interests. It’s not Mass Media, it is Individuated Media.

And that’s the point of my keynote today. We are right. People want Individuated media. Not Mass Media. Mass Media, and the practices and business models associated with it, were based upon scarcity, not surplus or abundance. Nothing wrong with that during its era. But that era ended at the end of the past century. What we’re clearly seeing nowadays, in the 21st Century, is the rise of Individuated Media (what we’re at this conference calling Personalized Media)

We know that the ramifications of billions of people having virtually instant access to all the world’s information are gargantuan, far greater than Gutenberg’s invention of moveable printing type or Marconi ’s and Tesla’s invention of broadcasting, and will affect not only the media industries, but every other realm of commerce, culture, politics, society, and civilization. But the fact that billions of people want a personalized, customized, individualized selection of content has gargantuan ramifications for the media industries.

First, hunting & gathering are primitive ways to acquire things–be those things food and shelter or news, entertainment, and information. There are huge business opportunities for media companies here. Facebook knows that, which is why it allows its users to automate feeds of news, entertainment, and information into users’ Facebook experiences.

The media industries need to adopt production practices and technologies that deliver to each individual the personalized, customized, individuated news, entertainment, and other information (including advertising and other product & service information) that that the person wants.

All sectors of all media industries need to work together, something unprecedented. People don’t consume just newspapers or just magazines or just broadcasts or just pure-play Internet content. They consume the mix, and won’t deal with different business models per media industry. Walls between traditional media must fall.

Nor will people consume just their own nation’s media. The world’s media industries need to globalize. There are no borders online except language.

All this will require huge changes in the practices and business models of media. Likewise, huge changes in the production and delivery technologies. Yet all of the technologies necessary exist today. These technologies and their successors are necessary for media companies to survive during the 21st Century. We are the pioneers of these discoveries.

During the next two days, we’ll examine personalized books, personalized magazines, personalized newspapers, personalized advertising, personalized greeting cards, personalized home printing, and other related subjects.

We’ll look at the technologies, the products, and the business models.

Like the early automobiles, early aircraft, and early computers, some of these might be embryonic or have gaps in their production or business models. But they are the future.

We are the future. The future of media is here with you now.

Thank You!

Comparing Web Use Within Europe

 

If you think all Europeans use the Internet the same, you’re wrong.

As an American who’s worked a fair amount in Europe, I love studying the variations in among how the various European nationalities use the Internet. Lately, I’ve been comparing social media use within Europe (more about that at a later date). However, this week comScore Media Metrix released a survey comparing how the various European nationalities use the World Wide Web during March.

Overview of European Internet Usage by Country

Ranked by Total Unique Visitors (000)

March 2011

Total Europe Audience, Age 15+, Home and Work Locations
Source: comScore Media Metrix

Location Total Unique Visitors (000) Average Hours per Visitor Average Pages per Visitor
World-Wide 1,350,539 23.1 2,094
Europe 363,697 26.0 2,678
Germany 49,729 23.4 2,643
Russian Federation 47,417 22.8 2,532
France 42,251 27.5 2,644
United Kingdom 36,244 33.0 2,953
Italy 22,981 17.9 1,688
Turkey 22,768 29.4 3,098
Spain 21,317 26.3 2,404
Poland 18,192 25.9 2,976
Netherlands 11,953 34.4 3,515
Sweden 6,138 25.0 2,369
Belgium 5,903 19.7 2,016
Austria 4,654 13.8 1,456
Switzerland 4,646 18.4 1,794
Portugal 4,099 20.2 1,878
Denmark 3,638 20.8 2,138
Finland 3,336 24.7 2,359
Norway 3,212 25.1 2,019
Ireland 2,048 18.8 1,720

These aren’t exact figures. Many other reputable companies estimate that there are nearly 2 billion Internet users worldwide; comScore estimates that there are only 1.35 billion. Many other companies show different European national usage estimates than comScore’s. However, whatever the differences, comScore’s figures are an OK filter for seeing national variations.

Europe is home to 731 million people. comScore estimates that at least 363.7 million of them used the Web during March 2011, and that the average users spent 26 hours doing so. The table above ranks some European nations by the numbers of Web users that comScores estimates each nation has.

Numbers of Users versus Web Penetration

That the  Russian Federation now has the third largest number of Web users in Europe shouldn’t be surprising. This table lists sheer numbers of users, not each country’s Web penetration. that the. There are 149 million people in the Russian Federation, and comScore estimates that at least 47 million (32 percent population penetration) used the Web in March. Germany‘s population is 82 million and comScore’s estimate is that nearly 50 million of them (61 percent) used the Web during that month. France has a population of 66 million and comScore says 42 million (64 percent) of the French browsed the Web during March.

Likewise, comScore estimates that nearly 23 million Turks used the Web in March, more users than Spain, Sweden, or Poland. But that’ s likely because Turkey has a population of 73 million people (compared to 43 million Spaniards).

If all the countries in the table ranked were by by Web penetration, the Netherlands would be atop with 71 percent of its population.

Duration of Use (‘Engagement’)

Indeed, the Dutch spent the most time online, according to comScore. They spent an average of 34.4 hours on Web during March, a third more time than the average European. People in the United Kingdom were next, spending 33.0 hours on average. Turks spent the third most time on the Web in March.

Austrians spent the least time on the Web, only 13.8 hours in March, which seems odd because Swiss, with approximately the same number of Web users, spent 50 percent more time. Italians spent the second lowest time on the Web, nearly 18 hours per month.

It’s unsurprising that people in the Netherlands saw the most Web pages that month (3,515), but it’s remarkable that people in Turkey were second (3,098). The Austrians and Italians saw the least (1,456 and 1,688 respectively).

My Conclusions

  • Turkish usage of the Internet is booming.
  • The Netherlands and United Kingdom are mature Internet markets.
  • Despite people from other parts of the world believing that Scandinavians make the world’s highest usage of the Internet, comScore’s per capital usage figures dispute that belief.
  • As Internet penetration in the Russian Federation increases, that country will likely become the world’s third largest national group of users.

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Citizen Journalism Absent in the Arab Press

My thanks to Dr. Khalid Mohammed Ghazi, editor of the Cairo-based Arab Press Agency, for citing some of my work in his editorial, صحافة المواطن.. غائبة عن الصحافة العربية (Citizen Journalism…Absent from the Arab Press), published on Wednesday in, among other newspapers, Al Shabiba of Oman. [Click the English title of his essay to read a Google machine translation of the Arabic original].

As Dr. Ghazi writes, Citizen Journalism is hugely missing from the Arabic speaking world! He notes Al Jazzera’s efforts to introduce it, using online and cable television broadcasts (the latter similar to CNN’s i-Report project), but that Arabic printed media lags far behind, even in Arabic countries where government regulation of media isn’t that big a problem. He writes:

“We believe that citizen journalism may have added a new dimension to the news process, allowing the average citizen a sense of the journalist and the curiosity and motivation to become a participant and an architect and not just the quest for truth only; but that citizen journalism in the world still faces some criticism in relation to the accuracy of news put forward through it.”

Arabic is the first language of nearly a quarter billion people and the official language of 22 countries in the Middle East and North Africa. Perhaps one reason for the low adoption of citizen journalism there is that Internet penetration is still relatively low, estimated at 29% (3.3% of the world’s Internet users). However, those percentages should rise this decade, and I hope that citizen journalism will become a staple of many Arabic countries’ media.

Singaporean TV News Coverage


The Singapore Press Holdings Foundation each year hosts a media lecture in the Drama Centre of the National Library. This year’s theme was Media in Transition: Social & Economic Impact. I gave the lecture. Here is TV news coverage of that speech, delivered on July 14, 2010. To see the entire lecture.

Nokia’s Life Tools and 175+ Countries

Last month elsewhere, I wrote about the importance of providing services to mobile phones as the basis for any newspaper’s future services. I’m involved in a project in a small South Africa city in which mobile will be the key (the story at that hyperlink describes it).

I’d written, rather bluntly, that I don’t particularly care what online business model saves The New York Times or The Daily Telegraph or National Post or Le Monde. Those national publications’ journalism certainly is worth saving, but national publications are atypical. What’s really needed is a business model that can save much smaller daily newspapers, those with less than 100,000 circulation. Those comprise more than 95 percent of the world’s newspapers.

I today spent quite a bit of the day examining Nokia’s Life Tools project. On Sunday, CIO magazine published a brief article outlining the project. It notes:

Life Tools includes a range of services aimed at rural mobile users in emerging markets, where agriculture remains a mainstay of local economies.

Agriculture-related offerings on Life Tools include local weather forecasts, information on crop prices at local markets, advice on growing crops, as well as pricing information for pesticides, seeds and fertilizer. Educational services include English lessons and advice on taking exams, while sports scores and music are available for entertainment.

While agriculture-related services might not be attractive to small newspapers in post-industrial countries, such services are very important in more than 170 other countries worldwide, countries where most of the world’s population lives.

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Moreover, what I’ve been discovering over the past several years is that newspapers need to develop their mobile phone services the opposite way that newspapers developed services in their printed editions.

Newspapers have been printed for more than 400 years. The original newspapers printed only news (hence the name newspapers), but over the centuries other information was added: advertising, scores calendars of events, cartoons, stock prices, dining & entertainment listings, horoscopes, etc.

Today, however, newspapers that use mobile phones only to offer news won’t gain very many mobile users. But if they instead offer mobile services providing dining & entertainment listings, horoscopes, calendars of events, services that match consumers and local merchants, etc., those newspapers’ mobile services will then have enough usage to be profitably able to provide news.

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Are News Sites in Britain Wasting One-Third Their Advertising Potential?

Writing about the Four Fundamental Traits of New-Media, I mentioned in 1998 that…

“Distance Disappears. Geography ceases to be a factor, except for language and culture.”

The British newspaper industry is reading research published this month City University Senior Lecturer Neil Thurman in the journal Journalism: Theory, Practice & Criticism. His research notes that the British are actually a minority of the readers of news websites based in Britain. Thurman’s research points out that that Americans make up an average of 36 per cent of that readership, with up to another 39 per cent of readers coming from other countries. As few as one in four readers may be from the United Kingdom.

Several months ago, Thurman was kind enough to send me a draft copy of his report, which I’ll write about later this month. However, The Times (of London) Media Analyst Rhys Blakely yesterday published an interesting story about foreign readership and how recent Nielsen//NetRatings data from the UK that confirms much of this research.

According to the latest figures from Nielsen//NetRatings, the media researcher, Guardian Unlimited and TimesOnline, the UK’s two largest ‘quality’newspaper websites in terms of users, have more American than British readers. The Daily Telegraph‘s online offering is approaching a similar tipping point. The Independent is nearly twice as popular in the US as on its home turf. Perhaps most strikingly, the Daily Mail, commonly regarded as speaking to Middle England, has more than three times as many US readers online as British ones.

This is not a new phenomenon. At least 1,375 US daily newspapers are on the web. And yet, as long ago as 2005 (which counts as another age on the internet), the Evening Standard [of London] was the 31st most popular online source of news for Americans. London’s local paper punched well above its weight in a field dominated by the American broadcast networks NBC, CNN, ABC, CBS and Fox News.

As I mentioned in 1998, the first of The Four Fundamental Traits of New-Media is, as Nicholas Negroponte, founder of the MIT Media Lab, put it, “Bits, not Atoms.”

Unfortunately, most countries’ advertising industries are based on delivering gazillions of atoms of printed paper or radiating a radio or TV signal across their country’s physical geography, not necessarily delivering electronic bits of information across entire languages or cultures. These legacy industries need to change.

If Americans make up an average of 36 per cent of the readership of news websites based in Britain, then it seems clear that those sites had best advertise to them or else waste over one-third of the sites advertising potential.

The Media Development Loan Fund

mdlf.jpg

Sasa Vucinic and Patrice Schneider of MDLF, Prague. March 2007

In 30 years working in news media, I’ve never encountered a more beneficial cause than the Media Loan Development Fund. So, I’vebeen volunteering some of my consulrting time to it.

The idea behind the MDLF arose during the late 1980s when Yugoslavian broadcaster Sasa Vucinic watched freedom of the press almost evaporate in his country. He worked for B92, which was the independent radio station in Serbia and a thorn in the side of dictator Slobodan Milošević‘s regime. Unable to find a legal pretext to silence B92, the regime began threatening the radio station’s advertisers. B92 began running out of money and Vucinic was unable to find any bank, inside or outside of Serbia, that was willing to loan B92 money to keep operating.

Vucinic never forgot that experience (he gave an videotaped talk about it at the 2005 TED conference). In 1995, he approached billionaire George Soros, who himself grew up under a Communist regime in Hungary, about the idea of creating a foundation to loan money to independent media in countries that have repressive regimes. Soros agreed to setup the Media Development Loan Fund, which is based in Prague.

Vucinic’s first MDLF project was a newspaper that during the late 1990s was being forced by the Slovakian government to travel 400 kilometres to print the paper. The newspaper wanted to purchase a printing press, so MDLF loaned it the money. MDLF has since financed 135 projects for 58 independent media companies in 18 countries. When MDLF began, Soros didn’t think the foundation would ever see its loans repaid, but 97 percent of the 58 projects have repaid their loans on time.

In 1998, MDLF established the Center for Advanced Media-Prague (CAMP) in 1998 to introduce new-media concepts and solutions to independent media in the post-communist and developing countries. Earlier this year, Patrice Schneider, MDLF’s director of development and formerly the Managing Director of Netscape Europe and Deputy Managing Director of Hachette Filipacchi Media, asked several other international new media experts and I to advise MDLF and CAMP about coming changes in new media and new media technologies..

If you have a chance to help MDLF’s worthwhile cause, please do so.

Digital Norway

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My hearty thanks to the staff of the Dagbladet in Oslo, Norway, for having me as the featured speaker at their seminar Thursday for online advertisers.

Dagbladet also invited me to their corporation’s winter holiday party – where I was easily identifiable as the sole person among the 300 there who didn’t speak Norwegian! I particularly want to commend the hospitality of, among others, my new friends Dagbladet MediaLab Editor and CEO Rune Røsten, Dagbladet.no Editor Esten Sæter, and Svein-Erik Klemetsen who chose and invited me.

Every country seems to think that someone else is ahead of it in practical application of online media. I’m often asked which country is the best. The answer since the late nineties has clearly been the four Scandinavian counties, though South Korea and Estonia have joined them in the top rank during the past four years. The Finns, Swedes, Danes, Norwegians, South Koreans, and Estonians have pulled well ahead of the Americans, Canadians, British, Irish, Dutch, Germans, and Singaporeans in online media usage and application.

Before putting Norwegian online usage into perspective, allow me to first tell you about Norwegian printed media usage. Until Japan surpassed it last year, Norway for years had the world’s strongest readership of daily newspapers – 0.626 copies sold daily per adult, compared to 0.33 in the US). At the beginning of 2006, the national tabloids Dagbladet and Verdens Gang Verdens Gang and Dagbladet were selling 343,703 and 252,716 copies per day respectively in a nation of only 4,610,000 people. Imagine the equivalent daily circulations in America, which adjusted for population would be 22,366,789 and 16,445,726, far above the actual circulations of 2,269,509 for USA Today or 1,086,798 for The New York Times. DB and VG are very successful printed newspapers.

Despite that strong readership, print circulation is rapidly declining in Norway. The state agency Medianorway reports that VG‘s circulation dropped 6.2 percent and DB‘s 13 percent during 2005. Several DB staffers told me that the as yet unreported 2006 circulation changes were be similar. [Update: Audit Bureaux of Circulation figures released Febuary 12th showed that VG‘s daily circulaiton during 2006 had dropped by 28,000 copies to 315,500. I don’t yet have the ABC figure for Dagbladet.]

As in most other countries, many print edition executives are blaming their companies’ free online editions for cannibalizing printed edition circulation sales. These print edition executives want either (a) access to the online editions to be sold for a subscription fee equivalent to print or else (b) that the online editions not provide full news and instead encourage online readers to get that by purchasing a printed copy.

That first option is philistine and regressive In a world where the only growing sector of daily newspaper circulation is free papers – up more than 137 percent during the past five years, from 12 million to 28 million copies worldwide. The second option is like insisting that each automobile one hundred years ago have a horse in front of it, a really dumb idea.

Almost all Norwegian adults and teenagers are online, far higher percentages than in America, Canada, or the UK. The average bandwidth into Norwegian homes and offices is 1.5 megabytes per second. And the strong newspaper readership and advanced online infrastructure shouldn’t lead to any mystery that Norway produces what may be the world’s best online editions (so too do several of the dailies in Sweden, Denmark, and Finland).

VG.no receives 950 000 unique users per day and Dagbladet.no 750,000. The weekly unique user numbers are 2,240,000 and 1,820,000 respectively, almost entirely domestic traffic. The equivalent number in the US would be 61,822,124 and 48,806,940 unique users daily, or 145,770,060 and 118,438,174 per week. Compare those numbers to to NYTimes.com’s 13,372,00 unique users per month. Online editions are pervasive in Norway.

Dagbladet.no’s EBITA earnings climbed from 8.5 million to 22 million Kroner (1.3 million to 3.3 million US dollars) between 2004 and 2005. The 2006 increase was at least 40 percent more and forecast to be the same during 2007. The Economist magazine last year reported that VG‘s publisher Shibsted earned nearly 40 percent of its revenues from new-media. Dagbladet AS reportedly earned about a third of its that way. New-media will probably contribute more than 40 percent of each companies earnings this year.

Whenever I asked Dagbladet staffers whether they or VG had the best online edition, they answered with typical Scandinavian humility that VG did. Their answer was like the student who scores 98/100 saying the student who scored 99/100 is better. A tiny difference.

My role last week was to explain to approximately 90 dagabladet.no’s advertisers what the future of digital media will be. No one, including me, truly knows the answer to that. I chose not to tell them the trends — indicators that have too often been wrong during the past 15 years of public access to the Internet. I instead explained the underlying dynamics that are driving change and, in particularly, what this will mean to not only dagbladet.no but the company’s social networking site, blink.no. (I plan to put my Dagbladet presentation online later this season.) More than 350,000 Norwegians – including 42 percent of norwegians between ages 16 and 18 and 75 percent of those younger than 26 years– belong to it.

I was surprised to discover that the Norwegian state broadcaster NRK, which has long been involved in online media, produces a good website, but its online, mobile, and interactive/digital TV developments and strategies seem behind the British Broadcasting Corporation and other Western broadcasters, and well behind the South Korean broadcasters. Is the problem lack commercial competition that could make NRK change more quickly? I don’t know.

While in Oslo, I talk to several people about the idea of holding an online news publishing conference in Scandinavia. But the World Association of Newspapers beat me to the idea, announcing yesterday that one will be held there on March 8-9. Relatively short notice. (Plus, WAN’s website unfortunately was down today.)

My apologies to my Norwegian old friends Gard Jenssen, of Startspin.com and Iignitas.com, and Bent Nordbø, formerly of Aftenposten, both of whom I had hoped to contact while I was Oslo. I hadn’t time in lieu of Dagbladet. (Bent: I’ve lost track of you. Please let me know your current contact info?)

UK ABC to Exclude RSS User-Agents, like bots.

The Audit Bureau of Circulations in the UK and Ireland reports that it and the members of JICWEBS (The Joint Industry Committee for Web Standards) yesterday agreed to exclude RSS User-Agents from member websites’ user traffic statistics, thus excluding RSS from the measurement of Page Impressions.

The member then asked the ABC’s Internet Technical Group to review and suggest ways of measuring the ‘reading’ of RSS.

JICWEBS’ members include the:

In other words, the organizations that include just about every online publisher in the U.K.

The Global Effects of CraigsList on Newspapers

In today’s Media Guardian from London, Danny Meadows-Klue, CEO of the Internet Advertising Bureau in the U.K. and former chief of new media at the Daily Telegraph, writes an excellent overview of how CraigsList is savaging old media’s classified advertising revenues in a “…the collision of the new economy and traditional business models.”

By the way, did you know that the money being spent on Internet advertising in the United Kingdom has now surpassed that spent on radio advertising? During 2004, advertisers spent

Majority of UK Internet Users Now on Broadband

Netimperative yesterday reported that there are now more broadband Internet users than dial-up Internet users in the United Kingdom. It reported that new figures released by BT Group show that, there are now more than 7.4 million broadband customers (including those of BT’s competitors) in the UK and that broadband connections are now accessible to 99.6% of the UK population.

The UK joins South Korea as redominately broadband nations.

Meanwhile, the European Commission has launched an initiative, i2010: European Information Society 2010, that hopes to foster growth and jobs in Europe’s information society and media industries. The Commission is in particular keen to promote high-speed and secure broadband networks offering rich and diverse content in Europe, reports EU Business.

To support technological convergence with ‘policy convergence’, the Commission will propose: an efficient spectrum management policy in Europe (2005); a modernisation of the rules on audiovisual media services (end 2005); an updating of the regulatory framework for electronic communications (2006); a strategy for a secure information society (2006); and a comprehensive approach for effective and interoperable digital rights management (2006/2007).

Critics often rap the European Commission as bureaucratic, but these initiatives seem to be more than the U.S. Federal Communication Commission is doing.

WAN-IFRA Merger Off

Merger talks between two of the world’s largest newspaper associations have broke off. For the past months, the World Association of Newspapers and Ifra had been discussing merger, but this morning WAN announced that talks had ceased, at least for the foreseeable future. Neither WAN nor Ifra said why. “Both associations agreed to continue close cooperation and expressed the hope that circumstances would allow them to re-open discussions on a merger at a future date,” wrote WAN spokesman Larry Kilman.

WAN, based in Paris, represents 72 national newspaper associations, plus 13 national news agencies, nine regional press organizations, individual newspaper executives from 102 nations. IFRA, based in Darmstadt, Germany, represents more than 3,000 publishing companies and suppliers worldwide. .

In November, I’d written that a WAN/IFRA merger would have greatly benefited the newspaper industry and have brought greater coordination new media efforts worldwide. WAN’s “Shaping the Newspaper of the Future” project is among the world’s most conceptually advanced about what newspapers must do to survive in the 21st Century. IFRA is the world’s leader at newspaper printing technologies and has been pioneering the multimedia newsroom of the future at its Newsplex research facility in South Carolina.

New-Media Newspaper Activity in Japan

Japan has 102 daily newspapers. Here is a snapshot of their new-media activities:

83 operate website
26 also provide video on those websites
39 have e-mail editions
39 syndicate contents others companies’ sites
36 provide services (such a teletext) on cable television
16 provide teletext service to mobile phone
 4 provide digital editions online

(My thanks to the Japan Newspaper Publishers & Editors Association for this information)