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Read Nursery Rhymes to Your Kids From Anywhere With New App and Wi-Fi!

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Having just spent the majority of yesterday at the hospital with my preschooler, I have to say that this app went straight to my heart. Even non-parents can appreciate the beautiful drawings of the classic stories.

The Nursery Rhymes with StoryTime app is available on the iPad, iPhone 4 or 3GS. You can read these stories aloud to your child from any Wi-Fi accessible app.

Available for $4, the app contains popular nursery rhymes like Humpty Dumpty, Jack & Jill, and Three Blind Mice. Not only does the child hear your voice, they can interact with the stories as well. According to their site, Nursery Rhymers merges the illustrations of Denslow, created over a century ago, with the very latest in physics simulations. The app appears to have been built out of a torn-up and rearranged copy of Denslow’s original Mother Goose. Click here to download.

Newspapers Continue to Suffer in the Face of Online News Coverage

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Newspapers Continue to Suffer in the Face of Online News Coverage According to a report released by the Project for Excellence in Journalism, the state of the American news media improved in 2010 after two years of downward movement. Among the major sectors, only newspapers continued to suffer – due to the advent of online news sources.

News organizations — old and new — still produce most of the content audiences consume. But each technological advance has added a new layer of complexity—and a new set of players—in connecting that content to consumers and advertisers.

News companies now find themselves having to tackle:

  • A continuing loss of advertising dollars as new platforms and programs take a share of the revenue split.
  • A constant shift of applications and platforms that require technology expertise, rather than journalism knowledge.
  • A huge increase of users looking to find news on a mobile device. Nearly half of all Americans (47%) search out local news on their mobile device.
  • People obtaining more news from the Internet than newspapers.

In some ways, new media and old, slowly and sometimes grudgingly, are coming to resemble each other.

While this may be a time of change, growth, and experimentation – there is also a shift in trends and many stories and news topics are being left behind. “Some vitally important stories are less likely to be covered,” said the leader of a local civic group in Seattle. “It’s very frightening to think of those gaps and all the more insidious because you don’t know what you don’t know.

Image Source: SXC

March Madness: How Mobile and Social are Changing the Game

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It’s that time of the year again. The opening rounds of the NCAA Men’s D1 Basketball Tournament are responsible for interoffice gambling, gut-wrenching defeats and a massive drop-off in work productivity. But March Madness also offers valuable insight into how major sports events are consumed by fans, particularly in regards to the effects of mobile and social on the game viewing experience.

The proliferation of mobile devices and social media usage has dramatically affected the way fans interact with and watch their favorite teams and athletes perform. This year’s NCAA tournament will find fans group-messaging by phone and reviewing their brackets on their laptop, all while watching the game at a sports bar. They will “check in” to the Final Four on Foursquare to unlock a badge, “Like” their favorite team’s Facebook page to show pride and even “trash tweet” some of the tournament’s players on Twitter. As social feeds and text messages continuously interrupt fans, networks and sponsors must fight and offer incremental value to keep the attention of their fickle viewers.

This can be a troublesome and confusing time for those looking to protect multi-year / multi-billion dollar broadcasting deals, who may be fearful to extend live streaming beyond broadcast television. However, CBS Sports and the NCAA have proven that making live broadcasts of major sporting events widely available via mobile devices and social media channels will not cannibalize your audience. In fact, it will likely drive more views, more engagement, and ultimately more revenue.

Access for Everyone
CBS is committed to making the NCAA Tournament available to anyone, anywhere for free. Rather than restrict live games to only appear on broadcast TV, March Madness on Demand (MMOD) allows fans to view every game on the web, iPhone, iPod touch or iPad. As a result, no other live sporting event comes close in terms of audience reach or time spent viewing online.

This open approach has led to tremendous success with both viewers and advertisers. In 2009, MMOD garnered 8.6 million total hours of live streaming video and audio, while pocketing an additional $30 million in online ad revenue. Last year saw a 36% growth in total viewing hours with 11.7 million and generated $37 million in online ad sales. All the while, broadcast figures have continued to grow steadily.

Credit CBS with realizing its online audience does not detract from its broadcast audience. Online and mobile viewers have proven additive as they tune in primarily during work hours and times when they are not able to get to a TV. During primetime hours, broadcast numbers dominate.

By making games available via web and mobile, it has only increased viewership. The constant access allows fans to stay connected and engaged with the action, which in turn motivates the socially-inclined to share emotional experiences related to March Madness with friends via text messages, status updates, tweets, or good old-fashioned word of mouth. So when your co-worker catches the latest buzzer beater live, he’s going to let you know about it at the office water cooler, or the digital equivalent (Facebook or Twitter).

Sports Fans are Social
It’s no surprise that social media will play a prominent role in March Madness, as was the case last year and is with any major sporting event these days. Research shows nearly one in four (23%) online Americans will use social media to follow the NCAA Tournament this year, according to a survey from IMRE Sports.

Brands are not so much interested in the fact that fans will use social media this March, but more so in which platforms and exactly how they plan to use it. These are the insights that will help shape marketing and advertising budgets over the next few years.

Of the 23% of online Americans who plan to use social media to follow March Madness, the research study revealed the following:

  • 50% will use social networking sites
  • 31% will specifically utilize YouTube
  • 27% will utilize a mobile application

Among those planning to use social media to follow the tournament, 62% will use it specifically to check the scores and 44% will use it to watch the games.

The survey also revealed that Facebook is the most popular social media channel for men’s college basketball fans to follow and interact with their favorite teams and players during the regular season. The Kansas Basketball Facebook page currently has over 80,000 “Likes” or fans, more than eight NBA teams. Additionally, the NCAA March Madness Facebook page has accumulated over 125,000 “Likes” and continues to grow rapidly.

These numbers indicate Facebook is becoming the “de facto” online destination for fan activity and conversation related to the NCAA Tournament and it should come as no surprise that brands have taken notice. K-Swiss partnered with Yahoo! Sports for its March Madness “Tournageddon” Brackett Challenge this year. The social media promotion spans across several platforms and is hosted by the larger-than-life HBO character, Kenny Powers, who has amassed over 200k Twitter followers and almost 1 million Facebook “Likes”.
This is just one example. Look for dozens of other corporate brands to “fish where the fish are” and try to catch a few new customers by tapping into the passion that March Madness evokes from its viewers.

What Does All This Mean?
When it comes to watching sports nothing replaces the live “in-stadium” experience, and fans will choose a 50-inch HD Plasma with surround sound any day of the week over an iPhone or laptop. Content owners understand that sports fans look to supplement their viewing experience, and not replace it, with mobile phones, laptops and tablets.

Advances in technology and social media have allowed networks and sponsors to engage fans far beyond the game itself. For example, MMOD offers fans countless hours of highlights, pre-game analysis, special camera replays and other unique content that simply cannot be broadcast on mainstream channels. This in turn feeds the digital fan’s desire for content and access that he/she can share via email, social media, text messaging and other activities inherent to these devices they use to compliment the viewing experience.

But all aside, it’s important not to forget the most important part of a major sporting event like March Madness, the Olympics or the World Cup is the live action itself. The cool behind-the-scenes footage and exclusive Twitter updates pale in comparison. So when and where fans cannot access the action on TV, they should be able to access it on the devices they carry with them 90% of the day. And more importantly, content and rights owners should understand this will only increase total viewership.

The NCAA Tournament and MMOD have proven that free content, available to anyone will not detract from the broadcast, but rather add value and views. Look to see more availability of major sports events as leagues, networks and advertisers grow more confident that this won’t eat into the primetime broadcast that pays the bills.

Steve Cobb and the social marketing agency he co-founded, Activ8Social, are at the forefront of sports marketing and social media. Steve led the planning and execution of several groundbreaking sponsor activations, featuring athletes such as Rajon Rondo of the Boston Celtics and Reggie Bush of the New Orleans Saints, that leveraged social platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare and Stickybits to create real world fan experiences. His work has been featured on ESPN.com, Mashable, and InsideFacebook. Follow him on Twitter @Steve_Cobb

General Trends in the New Media Space

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As the host of Geek News Central Podcast and the CEO of RawVoice, I’m here to share some of the news happening  in the New Media & Podcasting space. Additionally I share several interesting trends I am seeing in the space, and have some tips for new media creators that are just getting started.

In future posts I will answer questions that content creators may have. If you have a question on podcasting that you would like me to cover, please leave your question in the comment section below.

The iPad 2 – I Want it For Only One Reason. The Camera

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I have an iPad. I use it for a multitude of applications, including blogging. But the one thing that drives me crazy is the lack of a camera. I include an image in every single post, and it would be so much easier to snap a photo with the iPad instead of having to use a work-around!

Of course I want the new iPad. Not for the memory or the thinner design (I actually prefer a bulky, sturdy version for my 3-year-old who likes to throw it across the room). Just for the camera.

But, for those of you who care about the other aspects, here are the details on the new iPad 2:

  • Main CPU is a dual core A5 processor – up to 2 times faster than the original iPad.
  • New graphics processor that’s 9 times faster than the original iPad.
  • Built-in cameras for photos and video: One for frontal FaceTime videoconferencing and one on the back.
  • Built-in gyroscope, like the iPhone 4.
  • Thickness: 8.8 mm (down from 13.4 mm)
  • Weight: 1.3 pounds (down from 1.5 pounds)

The price and color options will remain the same. And it

So when is it coming out? March 11th and the 3G model will be available on both AT&T and Verizon networks.

Will you be grabbing one?

Sources: MacWorld, NY Times and Mashable

How Technology Can Help Us Improve Our Health & Fitness

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… by Nathalie Lussier

Often we hear about the bad sides of technology: how it causes us to get addicted to social media, how we spend our sedentary lives in front of screens, and how we eat processed food.

But I’d like to remind us of all the ways that technology can actually help us improve our overall well-being. After all, wasn’t the promise of robots and technology to reduce the amount of work we would do so we could enjoy life more? Yes, yes it was.

Blogging for Accountability

Have you ever used accountability to stick to a goal or intention? You know like telling everyone that you were quitting smoking and that if they saw you with a pack of smokes to take it away from you? Or perhaps you’ve teamed up with a friend so that every morning you meet at the gym or on the sidewalk in front of your home to go running.

Accountability has a way of getting us to do the things that we want to do, but that we might not do if we lose motivation. You see we all want to “give face” and appear smarter, cooler, and more motivated to our friends, so we stick to our intentions.

That’s where blogging for accountability comes in: if your goal is to work out 3 times per week, eat a salad every day for lunch, or stop buying junk food… you can announce it to your blog readers, your Facebook friends, or your Twitter buddies. I promise that having to admit to the Internet that you caved and ate a tub of ice cream will keep you on the straight and narrow.

And it will make you healthier.

Planning Your Meals Online

Most of the time we eat badly because we haven’t planned ahead. When hunger hits, you’re a lot more likely to grab the first thing you see than wait it out and cook or prepare something healthy. This in turn sends you on a sugar rollercoaster, with ups and downs, and lots of regretful food choices.

On the other hand if you have a stocked fridge, planned meals, and some prepared snacks you can sail through the week eating stuff you know is good for you. And yes, that will make you healthier, and it will be lighter on your wallet to boot.

Another thing that the Internet allows you to do is research healthy meal options and recipes. There are even programs to help you plan your meals, automatically creating shopping lists for you, doing almost everything except eating the food for you.

Using Apps to Track Progress

If public accountability isn’t quite your thing, you can still track your progress using apps that run on your mobile devices. There are apps to track the number of miles you run, the calories you eat, and lots more.

I think there’s something to be said about being able to look back at your progress as your fitness improves. If you started out huffing and puffing after a 5 minute jog, and now you can run a few miles… you can bet you’ll want to celebrate this achievement!

Human beings are always looking forward to the next thing, so it’ important to have something to remind us of how far we‚Äôve come. And how much healthier we are too.

So there it is, three ways to use technology to better your health. Pick one and start today, and you’ll be reaping the rewards before you know it!

Nathalie Lussier writes about the intersection of technology, business, and wellness at her blog. She’s passionate about eating fresh whole fruits and vegetables and helps people through her Magick Menu program, and can even keep you accountable on Twitter if you need it.

30 Days to a Better Blog: Be Flexible

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30 Days to a Better Blog: Be Flexible

I’m a pretty rigid person. I can easily get set in my ways and start to think my way is the best way. And when someone questions me, I tend to go on the defensive.

But I’m learning. I’m learning that critiques and questions and differences of opinion are good things. They help me grow and reach and learn. I’m learning to be flexible.

The same goes for blogging. Technology is going to change. Blogging platforms are going to change. Your audience is going to change (to an extent). And your content and blogging habits may need to change with it.

The goal here (and throughout the year) is to be flexible. When someone questions your blog posts, your blog content, or your way of thinking – don’t go on the defensive. Take a step back and analyze their points. You don’t have to accept everyone’s criticism, but it never hurts to evaluate their thoughts and respond. And criticism and controversy on a blog can be a good thing 🙂 Make it an effort to stay on top of the latest trends, news, and technology. You may need to launch a mobile version of your blog soon, and that could impact your design and content structure. It’s okay! Be flexible.

Being flexible doesn’t mean bending to the point that you break. It means shifting when you need to, growing when you need to, and always acknowledging that you can improve. Do you consider yourself to be flexible?

Image Source: SXC

Holidays 2010: All About Location-Based Services?

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Although Foursquare was around this time last year, this is the first holiday season where I think we’ll see significant use of location-based social networking by shoppers. While users have long-used apps to locate stores, I think we’ll see a rise in usage this year for one main reason: coupons.

According to a survey as seen on Mashable, an average of 30 percent of users are willing to travel move than five miles to redeem a coupon. Of the 1200 surveyed, 21 percent are already using mobile coupons and 36 percent expect product descriptions found on location apps to be valuable while doing holiday shopping. Times are still tough, and just like last year, shoppers are willing to give up convenience of shopping online, shopping at a single store, or shopping at the nearest store to save money. I know I am.

So what does this all mean to you?

For Businesses:

  1. If you have a brick-and-mortar business, consider offering a coupon via location-based apps like Foursquare and Whrrl. In general, the better coupon you offer, the farther customers will travel to redeem it.
  2. Produce descriptions will go a long way in convincing someone to come to your store. Even if you can’t afford an awesome coupon, smart usage of location-based services can help you attract customers.
  3. Publicize your location-based app deals. If you leave it up to the customer to stumble upon what you’re offering, you won’t see much of  response.
  4. If you’re online-only, it might not make sense to offer coupons for location-based services, but don’t forget that offering coupons during the holiday season is a great way to drum up some business. Even if you’re a blogger offering an ebook, discounts during the holidays are appreciated.

For Shoppers:

  1. If you use a location-based service to find someone, especially a small business, tell the cashier as you check out. It encourages them to continue using the service.
  2. Do searches before you leave home to find the best deals and coupons being offered.
  3. Considering downloading a few different apps, since coupons could be offered through some, but not others. For example, Foursquare is great when I’m around home because some of the businesses I frequent offer coupons, but while I was at BlogWorld, Whrrl gave me amazing deals.

Will you be using location-based social networking this holiday season?

Gap’s Giving Away Free Jeans For Checking In As Part of Facebook Deals Launch

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I’ve seen it everywhere on Twitter today. Gap is giving away 10,000 pairs of jeans to those who check in using Facebook Places as part of the new Facebook Deals feature. Just hop into any men’s or women’s Gap U.S. retail location, check in and then show your phone to a Gap employee to enter for the chance to win a free pair!

Too bad I’m not near a mall today. But, as a coupon collector, I did further investiation into Deals, a new feature within Facebook’s iPhone app that enables businesses to offer deals to consumers who check in through the Facebook Places.

Already the following companies have offered deals:

  • Macy’s Inc. offered 20% discounts off most apparel, accessories and jewelry and some houseware items, and 10% off consumer electronics, furniture and mattresses.
  • 24 Hour Fitness is donating $1 to Kaboom to support children’s health for everyone who checks in to its fitness clubs.
  • American Eagle Outfitters offered 20% off;
  • REI is donating $1 to a local conservation non-profit when a consumer visits a store.
  • JCPenney is giving $10 off any $50 purchase.
  • Chipotle locations will offer a buy-one-get-one deal for any entree for customers who check-in on November 13, 14, 20, and 21.
  • Check out more deals!

Facebook Deals has four types of deals – Independent (discounts, products, rewards, etc), Friend (a friend has to check-in and receives discounts), Charity (allows consumers to donate by checking in), and Loyalty (frequent shoppers). To find a deal, just look for a yellow icon when you check in via Facebook Places. You’ll see the offer and can claim it by showing your phone to the cashier. Facebook then broadcasts your deal to your News Feed (I hope this is an option and not mandatory. I don’t need people to know where I’m shopping at all times!)

So will you be searching for deals using Facebook Places?

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