Posts Tagged ‘new media’

iPhone therefore iDistracted

April 28th, 2011 by Dale Hobson

I was on vacation last week, and while I usually manage to get the Listening Post out during my off-time, sometimes circumstances intervene. In this case my downfall was visiting Boston, where they keep many things one would actually want to buy. Those of you familiar with my rants know that I am a reluctant cell phone user; until just recently I used mine exactly as if it had a rotary dial on the front and connected to a wire in the wall. But my family feels differently, and so we walked out of a Boston Verizon store with three brand new iPhones (along with a crushing new monthly financial burden).

Once out the door, I used it to guide me (the blue blob floating on the Google map) step by step to a good bookstore in the Downtown Crossing neighborhood while my wife and daughter shopped elsewhere. There were many like me out in the streets walking hunched over their screens, like those weird old dudes who sweep the beaches with metal detectors. If enough of us wander obliviously under city buses, within a few generations natural selection will no doubt provide the survivors with an extra eye on top of the head, or else iPhone will make an app for that.

While drinking coffee at the location selected by my search parameters “organic fair tade coffee,” I started looking for all the cool apps that everyone evangelizes about, instead of talking about their kids.  So I got the Poetry App and the Facebook App and the Public Radio Player App and the eLumination app (which has strong retro appeal by flashing text messages across dark rooms via Morse Code) and a bunch of other apps that will consume whatever time I had remaining in my life for contemplation and prayer–or writing the newsletter on my off-time.

Listening Post blog barcodeOne of my favorites is the $.99 QuickMark App, which reads and writes bar codes. A barcode in Harvard Square on an event poster delivered a video of the band to my iPhone; one in a restaurant window delivered their menu and specials of the day. Cool. If you get your iPhone out now (you know you want to anyway) and scan the code here, it will deliver you to the home page of the Listening Post blog–unless you are reading this on your iPhone, and it can’t take a picture of itself, or you are reading this on the home page of my blog, in which case it sends you back to where you already are.

But that’s OK, because most new technology is about providing the illusion of motion and industriousness, without the actual effort or result.

Pick and shovel work

January 6th, 2011 by Dale Hobson

Bill Haenel and I, NCPR’s Websey Twins, are looking at a steep climb into 2011. Bill has been laying the invisible groundwork for the full redesign of, which we will begin rolling out over the next few weeks. You can expect both more and less from the new design–more of what you want, where you expect to find it–and less clutter, duplication, and out-of-date information. We will also work on expanding our scope, digging deeper into North Country communities, as well as into national and international news and culture. This is a huge reorganization task, so you can expect that there will also be problems and confusion–which we hope to keep to a minimum.

This is a job we have rarely attempted in the last ten years (that’s two centuries in new media years). It’s been daunting to rediscover just how much pig there is behind the thin lipstick of current content. This must be why so many builders prefer new construction to rehabbing a “cute” old Victorian. I’ve discovered hundreds of orphan pages relating to past projects and events, many of which I have no recollection of writing. And old tools that look interesting, if I could figure out what they were supposed to do. There are instructions on how to use features that don’t exist any more, and otherwise useful bits of content buried in the fluff of moldy long-deprecated HTML. Dealing with all this will keep me safely out of trouble for the forseeable future.

And the website is only the beginning. We are also developing a new application platform to make NCPR as useful (and useable) on smart phones and other hand-held devices as it is on conventional computers. And we are looking to make our social media outreach via Facebook and Twitter more personal and relevant. More on these efforts in the near future.